"We don't like to think of guests rifling through our medicine chests, but it is a possibility," Courtney Stewart, a research associate at the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at the Indiana University School of Public Health, in Bloomington, said in a university news release.
"Play it safe. Guests will be using bathrooms and placing coats and purses in various rooms," she said. "Prescription drugs of any kind should be placed in a safe location where they are kept locked and out of the hands of guests."
Secure places to keep prescription medicines include a locked car or a drawer in a locked bedroom. Over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin and antacids should be placed in a handy but private location so you have quick access to them.
Overdrinking is another common problem during the holidays, said Carole Nowicke, a research associate at the Indiana Prevention Resource Center.
"Party hosts may serve stronger drinks than are usually consumed, and guests may drink many more beverages while under the influence of conviviality and cheer," Nowicke said. "Adults with alcohol problems and underage youth may find alcohol unmonitored and plentiful even in homes where alcohol typically is not available."
If you're at a holiday gathering, choose nonalcoholic drinks, Stewart said. If you're hosting an event, provide nonalcoholic beverages for younger guests and people who don't drink.
Avoid binge drinking, which is five or more drinks over two hours for men, and four or more drinks for women, the experts said. And be aware of possible dangerous interactions between alcohol and medications.
Recovering alcoholics should stay away from gatherings with alcohol, or bring their own drinks, such as soda, coffee or tea, Stewart and Nowicke said.
The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about prescription-drug abuse.
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