The League

Dr. Mark Adickes
Orthopedic surgeon, former Redskin

Dr. Mark Adickes

Former Redskins' offensive lineman turned Harvard- trained orthopedic surgeon

Is hip-hop to thank?


The increasingly popular street drug, purple drank, is made most commonly with promethazine-codeine cough syrup, 7-Up, and dissolved Jolly Rancher candy. Codeine is a narcotic and can only be used legally with a doctor's prescription. Promethazine-codeine is a cough suppressant in small doses, but in large doses it can result in hallucinations similar to that produced by PCP. Concoctions are made with other narcotic containing cough syrups but are not as popular. In the past few weeks both JaMarcus Russell and Johnny Jolly have been in the news because of their consumption of the provocatively named recreational drug. If my kids knew about a cool new beverage called purple drank they surely would be hounding me to bring some home...they ask for Bug Juiceā„¢ all the time but I can purchase that without getting arrested and having my medical license revoked. So, should we expect to see more problems due to its use as the 2010 NFL season gets under way or are these incidents isolated?

Just like society as a whole, players in the NFL drink alcohol and we see reports fairly regularly about players getting DUI's. Purple drank usage is on the rise across all demographic groups in the United States, but is particularly popular in the Hip Hop community. DJ Screw is credited as the first Hip Hop artist to talk about the mixture in his music but more than 30 other musicians of this genre including Lil' Wayne and Ludacris have also included the subject matter in their songs. Sadly, DJ Screw died of an overdose of purple drank, mixed with alcohol, on November, 16, 2000. It is reasonable to credit hip-hop with the increased popularity of the deadly purple elixir in crowds that listen to this music.

Another reason purple drank may be a growing problem in the NFL is its rapid excretion. Narcotics like purple drank remain in the system for just a couple of days, as does cocaine. Many performance enhancing drugs stay in the system for over one month. Marijuana can be found in the urine 11 weeks after consumption. Players who perhaps used marijuana when they were younger would want to avoid smoking pot while in the NFL for fear of being caught by random testing. The chance of being caught when using a drug that is out of your system in a couple of days is slim.

Narcotics are increasing in popularity as a recreational drug
with purple drank enjoying favored status within a specific group. Hopefully the negative press associated with Russell and Jolly's troubles will prevent some folks from using. Dr. Ronald Peters from the Medical Center in Houston, Texas says "They're taking the name, and they're trying to market it to young people." He goes on to say "Purple drank is the worst thing I've seen on the street since the making of candy cigarettes." There is one important difference between purple drank and the candy smokes. No amount of candy cigarette consumption will lead to death, even when mixed with alcohol.

By Dr. Mark Adickes  |  July 20, 2010; 12:40 AM ET  | Category:  NFL , NFL Rules , Substance Abuse Policy Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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It should be noted that marijuana USE can be detected within the NIDA guidelines up to one month after cessation of use. Of course the metabolites present aren't in marijuana, but are produced by the body converting psychoactive material into a substance that has no known psychoactive of physiological effects, to date.

Also, marijuana detection in a person who seldom uses marijuana can be below the NIDA threshold within three days.

Of course there are hair tests that can determine marijuana, as well as martini intake as long as the hair is on the head.

Posted by: WirthMenshun | July 20, 2010 3:43 AM

We can thank hip-hop for a whole boatload of societal ills.

Posted by: forgetthis | July 23, 2010 2:40 PM

It is sad to see such talanted young men who throw away their lives, huge salaries and NFL careers.

Posted by: JohnRummans | July 24, 2010 5:25 PM

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