Health Officials Warn Concert-Goers of Drug Overdose

The Cook County Health & Hospitals System and Illinois Poison Center (IPC) have seen a troubling trend of drug and alcohol overdoses among young adults attending concerts and festivals this summer.

“This summer during concert days Stroger Hospital prepares to see an influx of 20 additional patients who have overdosed on drugs or alcohol in our emergency department,” said Dr. Steve Aks, emergency medicine physician and medical toxicologist at Stroger Hospital and the Director of the Toxikon Consortium. “That figure is even more startling when you consider that we are just one of several local hospitals treating patients who come from venues across the city.”

Concert drugs pose a serious threat to users’ health. Molly (MDMA), one of the most pervasive concert drugs, is a psychoactive drug that acts as a stimulant and hallucinogen. It increases the user’s heart rate and seriously impacts the body’s ability to regulate temperature.  Serious side effects of Molly include delirium, hyperthermia and heart attack, all of which can be fatal.

While often promoted as a “pure” drug, Molly is not pure. It is regularly cut with amphetamines, cocaine, PCP and synthetic compounds that users are not aware of, or it may be an entirely unrelated drug, making each dose a life-or-death gamble.

“Molly and many of the related drugs on the market can have severe side effects.  Taking them at summer festivals and concerts can be especially problematic because of the unfamiliar environment, dense crowds and potentially high temperatures,” said IPC medical director Dr. Michael Wahl.  “Taking these substances in a hot setting with ongoing physical stress such as dancing in large crowds can contribute to developing very high body temperatures, which can be deadly.”

This weekend’s forecast calls for stiflingly hot weather which can exacerbate the negative effects of drugs and alcohol, causing serious deterioration much more quickly.

Concert-goes are urged to take care of their safety and the safety of those around them. IPC experts are available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week to answer questions and provide expert treatment advice to the public and health care professionals regarding exposures to drugs and other harmful substances. If you or someone you know has been exposed to a potentially harmful substance, please call the IPC at 1-800-222-1222. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911.