BLOOMINGTON, Ind., Dec. 24 (UPI) -- The Christmas tree is trimmed, the house decorated and gifts wrapped but before guests are invited, U.S. experts suggest locking up the medicine chest.
"We don't like to think of guests rifling through our medicine chests, but it is a possibility," Courtney Stewart, research associate at the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington, said in a statement.
"So, play it safe. Guests will be using bathrooms and placing coats and purses in various rooms. Prescription drugs of any kind should be placed in a safe location where they are kept locked and out of the hands of guests."
The potential for misuse of prescription drugs and alcohol during the holidays increases because of social gatherings, tradition and travel, Stewart said.
The abundance of alcohol and alcohol advertising over the holidays can ramp up consumption for both social drinkers and people who might be struggling with alcohol consumption.
"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,'" said Carole Nowicke, a research associate at the IPRC. "Adults with alcohol problems and under-aged youth may find alcohol unmonitored and plentiful even in homes where alcohol typically is not available."
Stewart and Nowicke suggest:
-- Lock up or move all prescription medications to a safe location, such as a locked car or a drawer in a locked bedroom.
-- Place over-the-counter medicines in a handy yet private location where you can dispense them to guests who may need an aspirin or antacid, etc.
-- Choose non-alcoholic drinks at social events.
-- Avoid binge drinking, five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women in 2 hours.
-- Recovering alcoholics could attend AA meetings, avoid activities with alcohol or bring their own drinks, such as soda, coffee or tea.
-- Be aware of possible interactions between alcohol and medication.
-- Provide alternative beverages for younger guests and those who do not drink alcohol.