The busiest time at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago isn’t Halloween or the Fourth of July. It’s the weekend of Lollapalooza, when teen festival goers—rather than chilling out to some Radiohead—are getting so fucked up on drugs or booze that they’re brought to the hospital in droves.
“We see kids who are completely inebriated, who are unable to say who they are,” Chief medical resident Nina Alfieri tells the Chicago Tribune. “We see kids who have taken pills they don’t know the name of. We kind of just don’t know what we’re going to get.”
According to the Tribune, the number of teens treated for alcohol and drug abuse during Lolla spikes in comparison to the rest of the year:
Last year, emergency rooms across the city treated 88 intoxicated teens during Lollapalooza — down more than a quarter from 2014 but still nearly nine times the average Chicago weekend. In comparison, 23 people ages 13 to 18 were hospitalized or sent to emergency rooms for alcohol-related reasons during Halloween weekend last year, and nine during the Pitchfork music festival.
Reasons for the surge can be attributed to the heat, the cost of food, the lack of parental supervision, and teens—or people in general, really—behaving like fucking idiots.
“These are teenagers. They may look and talk like adults, but they don’t always have the best decision-making,” says Dr. Karen Mangold. “That’s the frustrating part: seeing how much danger these kids can get themselves into.”
To combat the number of teen drinkers, festival organizers say that they will have young plainclothes staffers hidden in the crowd to catch and report underage drinking.
Be careful next weekend, Chicagoland youths. Lolla is gonna be full of narcs.