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How dangerous is 'sizzurp', the purple 'drank' linked to Justin Bieber's arrest

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Pop star Justin Bieber was charged with drunken driving, resisting arrest and driving without a valid license after police saw him street racing early Thursday morning in Miami.

Bieber was apparently drinking "sizzurp" a combination of soda, candy and prescription cough syrup with codeine in it. Health officials say it can be deadly.

Dr. Robert Glatter of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York., tells TODAY, "This is a very dangerous drug. It can lead to seizures and essentially lead you to stop breathing.”

Glatter has encountered several teenagers hooked on sizzurp in his emergency room.

“It’s quite addictive,” Glatter said. “The sweetness of the soda and candy combined with the drug itself makes people want to have this all day long. ... They just don’t know how much they’ve had throughout the day and by then, it’s almost too late.”

It's known as “purple drank,” “syrup” and “lean" and typically includes Jolly Rancher candy for color and extra sweetness along with soda and prescription-strength cough syrup. It's said to give an instant, euphoric high.

Superstar rapper Lil Wayne, who once praised the cocktail, was hospitalized last March after reportedly overdosing on codeine. Sizzurp also was attributed in the deaths of two other rappers.

Despite those incidents, songs and videos still glorify sizzurp use.

Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org says, “Kids are seeing this all over — on social media, on the Internet. They're seeing their favorite music stars talking about this, singing about this and then they turn to the medicine cabinet.”

Health officials say it’s important to be proactive and warn kids about the dangers of sizzurp.

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