LOS ANGELES -- The DEA is cracking down on a highly addictive and potentially deadly drink known as "Sizzurp."
Sizzurp is a syrupy drink that's a mixture of prescription cough syrup ( promethazine with codeine), soda and jolly ranchers, for added sweetness.
The concoction produces an intoxicating high but drinking too much of the stuff can be deadly.
Pharmacist Julie Chen says, "codeine is in the same class of drug as morphine, people like to take it for getting a body high or a sense of euphoria," but she warns, "codeine can kill."
Sizzurp, also known as "purple drank," first originated in the south in the 1990's. Its popularity quickly rose as rappers wrote lyrics about the liquid.
The deadly dangers of drinking too much were demonstrated with the deaths of DJ Screw in 2000 and Rapper Pimp C in 2008. In both cases, the coroner ruled their deaths as accidental overdoses of codeine and promethazine -- the main ingredients in Sizzurp.
The dangers of potentially overdosing have not stopped a Compton rapper known as Double-P from choosing Sizzurp as not just a drink of choice, but a lifestyle.
During an interview with KTLA, he shared, "some people smoke a cigarette in the morning, they say their first cigarette makes them feel a certain way. Me, the first cup of Sizzurp helps me start my day off right."
While rhyming about Sizzurp on his new album, Double-P claims his cough syrup prescription is completely legal. However, illegal trafficking of the medicine is a serious problem.
Less than a month ago in Downey, Doctor Nazar Al Bussam was arrested by the DEA on charges of allegedly writing bogus prescriptions of various painkillers, including the coveted cough syrup.
The DEA estimates Al Bussam received more than $100,000 a month in cash for fake prescriptions of numerous drugs. Al Bussam is currently set to face a judge on November 12 for a preliminary hearing.
Meanwhile, today's rappers and hip-hop artists continue to glorify Sizzurp in their lyrics and that has the DEA concerned. "Anytime a substance that can be so dangerous is popularized through music or our culture, it becomes something that we need to be very worried about," says DEA Sarah Pullen.
November 5, 2010