Lil Wayne is currently recovering from his third seizure in four weeks — but the cause of the rapper’s recent wave of health scares remains unclear.
The 33-year-old artist suffers from epilepsy, and his latest trip to the hospital came after doctors prescribed him the wrong balance of medication, sources told TMZ.
But last month, Wayne — who has a well-chronicled history of using a dangerous drug cocktail called lean — reportedly downed the toxic concoction just hours before suffering a pair of seizures, according to the celebrity gossip site.
Reps for the rapper later said the seizures were the result of him failing to take his medication. But when the Daily News asked whether the rapper had ingested lean as originally reported, they did not respond.
The reports were a cause of concern given that the “Lollipop” rapper was hospitalized and placed in critical condition in 2013 after reportedly knocking back the liquid drug.
Lean isn’t just a harmless cocktail — it’s an easily accessible, make-it-yourself drink that can be highly addictive, says New York-based addiction specialist Dr. Joel Nathan.
It’s predominantly made up of two drugs: promethazine and codeine cough syrup. Promethazine, an allergy medication, requires a prescription, and codeine, an opiate, does in many states, too.
“If people are sipping this stuff all day, they get tolerant to the codeine, and need more and more over time to have the same effect,” Nathan told the Daily News.
Lean originated in Houston and is often mixed with Sprite and jolly ranchers to improve the taste. It also goes by names like Purple Drank and Sizzurp.
The drink causes a euphoric feeling within a user, but can also lead to drowsiness — and in many cases, seizures.
“The more you use lean, the more you need to (drink) to have the same effect,” Nathan said. “You build a tolerance. And then you get to some of the more serious effects, which could be seizures.”
That could lead to major issues for someone with epilepsy like Lil Wayne. Nathan says the continued consumption of the cocktail can lower a person’s “threshold” for having a seizure, making it easier for an episode to occur.
And in some extreme cases, the opiate quality of the drink could result in death.
“Opiate overdoses are an epidemic in the United States,” he said. “Every 20 minutes, somebody dies from an opiate overdose. You can die from it.”
DJ Screw, a Houston-based rapper known for creating the chopped and screwed genre of hip hop, reportedly died in 2000 from a mixture of promethazine, codeine and alcohol. UGK rapper Pimp C’s death in 2007 was also linked to the cocktail.
Let’s put the lean down, people. Henny, is bad enough…