The city is issuing a fentanyl warning for those who use drugs in Lollapalooza, an issue that is too much for many families.

CHICAGO (CBS) — When it comes to Lollapalooza, safety always comes first, but this year the city is issuing a different safety alert – know what’s in your drugs.

Some say such messages can save lives, while others say they simply encourage illegal drug use.

But the city is real – people use drugs, and emergency rooms overdosed during Lollapalooza. So this year, the city is giving people the tools to stay safe, like handing out Narcan, as well as fentanyl drug testing kits.

The Chicago Department of Public Health posted a warning on their social media accounts. Lollapalooza fans that fentanyl can easily cause an overdose. Fentanyl can be found in cocaine, MDMA, and other drugs, not just heroin. The department also advised the public not to use drugs on their own.

Anyone can get free fentanyl test strips at Lollapalooza. The test strips can detect a potent opioid when mixed with other drugs.

Doses of Narcan are also given away for free, which can reverse an overdose.

“Every year we see young people end up in the hospital because they experimented — at a time when we really want people to have fun, but to have fun safely,” said CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arvadi.

Kathy Zander’s son, John Allen, died of a fentanyl overdose in 2016. He was only 22 years old.

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John Allen

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“He inhaled what he thought was just cocaine, and his best friend put fentanyl in it, which killed him,” Zander said.

While Zander is a Narcan supporter, she’s torn when it comes to fentanyl test strips.

“You give consent by saying, ‘OK, I’ll give you these fentanyl test strips, which I know you won’t use anyway,'” Zander said. “I have never met an addict who used a fentanyl test strip—never.”

Kimberly Erling’s daughter, Samantha Kyle, also died of a fentanyl overdose.

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Family photo


“Every morning when I wake up, I experience pain,” Erling said. “I lost my daughter and grandson in the blink of an eye.”

Kyle overdosed on a lethal mixture of heroin and fentanyl in Will County in 2018. Her unborn child, whom she planned to name Jaxen, did not survive.

Erling disputed the idea that leading the city during Lollapalooza was tantamount to encouraging drug use.

“I don’t believe it encourages drug use – I believe it can help save lives,” she said.

Get fentanyl and narcan test strips by emailing osu.cdph@cityofchicago.org.

Meanwhile, this weekend there will be a motorcycle race in honor of John Allen. The charity trip is sponsored by My Child’s Life Matters & Motorcycle Safety Lawyers and is dedicated to all those who have lost lives to opiate and fentanyl poisoning.

The ride starts at 11 a.m. Saturday at Harley-Davidson Woodstock, at 2235 S. Eastwood Dr. in Woodstock. The cost is $25 per driver and $5 per passenger.

This will be followed by a live concert at the Carol Stream Town Center. For more information about events, follow this link.