COLUMBIA, Mo. – Use of legal and illegal substances sometimes increases during the holidays. It might be extra celebratory cocktails with friends or self-medication to deal with depression or stress.

While there is no safe way to use any substance, health experts have developed an approach to help people engage with substances in safer ways, said Michelle McDowell, senior coordinator for University of Missouri Extension Community Health Engagement and Outreach.

These harm reduction strategies, as they are known, aim to reduce the negative consequences of substance use. They are practical strategies for people who use substances to better protect themselves and others while reducing the risk of unwanted outcomes, McDowell said.

One such strategy is to plan out the night or event in advance, following these 10 commonsense steps:

1. How are you getting there? Decide in advance who is driving and how you will get home safely. Consider using a rideshare app such as Uber or Lyft or having a sober buddy. Never drive under the influence of any substances.

2. Pay attention to the weather and be ready. Substances can alter judgment, putting people at risk of staying outside too long in extreme temperatures. Bad road conditions heighten the danger of even mild impairment. Check the forecast before leaving, bring appropriate clothing, keep a blanket in your car, and remember Step 1.

3. Who is going to be there? Use substances with people you know and trust.

4. Bring a set amount with you to consume, and only consume that. For example, if you bring two beers, switch to nonalcoholic drinks after finishing them; only bring the amount of THC products (now legal in Missouri) that you will use during the event. NOTE: If you’re bringing THC in edible form — especially to an event where there are minors — label and secure it to differentiate from regular candy or baked goods.

5. Hydrate. Alternate alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages.

6. Eat before and during the event. Food can slow the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream.

7. Use one substance at a time. Consuming more than one substance at a time can increase the risk of unwanted outcomes. For instance, combining caffeine with alcohol can mask the real-time effects of alcohol in your system.

8. Keep Narcan on you. Narcan counteracts the effects of opioid overdoses. It will not hurt anyone, but it can save a life. Sometimes people know when they have consumed an opioid and sometimes they don’t. Signs of opioid overdose include pinpoint pupils, gray- or blue-tinted lips or fingertips, shallow breathing and nonresponsiveness.

9. Call 911. If you suspect an overdose, call emergency responders. Missouri is a Good Samaritan state: The law protects both the person who needs help and the person who calls for help — even if the overdose involves an illegal substance. Call even if Narcan has been used, as overdose effects can return once Narcan wears off in 30 to 90 minutes. ALWAYS call 911.

10. Keep an eye on your loved ones. Always look out for one another.