Newswise — Some music festival goers will be exchanging their concert wristbands for hospital patient identification bracelets as Pitchfork kicks off the summer music and drug season in Chicago. The Chicago emergency medical community braces for an increase in anticipated substance-abuse cases. “Heroin use is still an increasing issue in the Chicago area and during music fests, we anticipate seeing a number of drug overdose cases,” says Christina Hantsch, MD, FACEP, FACMT, toxicologist at Loyola University Health System. “In addition to heroin overdoses, we prepare for an increase in patients with effects from stimulants and hallucinogenic substances including Ecstasy or Molly. Bath salts, synthetic marijuana and even abuse of over-the- counter products is, unfortunately, part of the culture.”

The weekend weather forecast for sunny skies with warmer temperatures can actually mean trouble for outdoor concert goers. “The possibility of serious effects including death is even more concerning in combination with warm weather effects,” says Hantsch, a former medical director for the state poison control. “Nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, fast heart rate, increased blood pressure, seizures and high body temperature can result from exposure to stimulant substances.”

Loyola and other emergency departments are prepared to handle anything including expected cases of dehydration, electrolyte abnormalities, hyperthermia and drug or weather-related seizures.

In the past, Lollapalooza recorded 246 ambulance runs and most were for drug-related emergencies. Last year at this time in Chicago, 41 drug overdose cases, one resulting in death, had been reported.