Do you use drugs and feel worried about how the coronavirus might affect you?

It is understandable that you might have some concerns but we want you to know that there is lots of support available.

Services across Extern are still here for you during the pandemic and are doing everything they can to ensure they can continue to support you.

Do you use drugs and feel worried about how the coronavirus might affect you?

Whilst it is always safer not to use drugs, if you currently do, here is advice you can follow to reduce risk or harm

  • Wash  your  hands  for  at  least  20  seconds  regularly including after going to the toilet, before eating/drinking and when  you  blow  your nose, cough or sneeze 
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue or your inner elbow, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands
  • Wash  your  hands  for  at  least  20  seconds  before  and  after  preparing or taking drugs
  • If drugs have been stored in the mouth (or could have been) before you purchased them wash the package and your hands thoroughly as soon as possible.

  • Effective handwashing is the most effective way to prevent infection, but where handwashing has not been possible use alcohol hand gel sanitiser
  • Wipe down any drug packaging, wraps or baggies with alcohol wipes as soon as possible after buying
  • For preparing drugs, always  prepare  a  clean  surface, cleaned down with anti-bac spray or alcohol wipes, if  it’s not possible use something like  clean  kitchen  roll and dispose of it afterwards
  • Do  not  share  any  paraphernalia  including any injecting equipment, equipment for snorting, pipes for smoking, vapes, bottles for drinking from or dabbing in shared bags
  • New equipment greatly reduces the risk of ALL infections
  • If fresh equipment is not available guidance for cleaning works is below and pipes or snorting equipment can be wiped down with alcohol wipes

What other problems could there be because of COVID-19?

  • Drug supplies may be interrupted because of work and travel restrictions. Any drugs you buy are likely to have been ‘cut’ or mixed with another substance, or they may not contain any of the drug you expect
  • If you don’t have access to the drugs you usually take, you may experience withdrawal. Ask your pharmacy about what medicines you can take to help, such as loperamide for diarrhoea and paracetamol for headache
  • If you drink alcohol, take benzodiazepines or take gabapentinoids like pregabalin regularly, ask your local drug service for their advice on what you should do.

Overdose and COVID-19

Overdose and covid19

Don't be afraid to get medical help by calling 999/112 if you or a friend become unwell or feel suicidal after using drugs. Using drugs alone can be dangerous due to the risk of overdose and lack of emergency help.

Breathing concerns associated with COVID-19 can increase the risk of overdose for people who use opioids, benzodiazepines and gabapentinoids

Further help and information

In Extern we have a number of services which could be of help to you of if you are concerned about your drug use:

Drugs Accommodation Support Project (DASP) – Belfast, NI

Based in Belfast, Extern's Drugs Accommodation Support Project (DASP) is a leading provider of support to injecting drug users enabling them to stabilise their lives by accessing temporary supported accommodation.


Tel: 028 9033 0433

Email: [email protected]

Low Threshold Teams – Northern and Southern Trust areas, NI

Low Threshold takes a harm reduction approach to helping people. This means using an approach that utilises knowledge, skills, advice and supports that will reduce the harm the person is doing to themselves, or others, through their drug and/or alcohol use.


Email: [email protected]

Midlands Youth Drug & Alcohol Support (MYDAS) (Under 18s) – Midlands, ROI

MYDAS (Midlands Youth Drug & Alcohol Support) project delivers a community-based under-18 drug and alcohol prevention and treatment support service for young people and families across the counties of Longford, Westmeath, Laois and Offaly.


Tel: 00353 (5) 793 51691

Email: [email protected]

Street Injectors Support Service (SISS) – Belfast, NI

The Extern Street Injectors Support Service (SISS) uses experienced staff to assertively engage with street injectors in Belfast and to collect and dispose of inappropriately discarded injecting equipment.


Freephone: 0800 085 8426

Drugs and Alcohol Consultancy Service – NI and ROI

Provides specialist consultancy, support, advice and training to people working with substance users with a focus on harm reduction. See for further information on training opportunities.


Email: [email protected]

Urgent Help

If you become unwell – for example, by taking a drug overdose – call 999 for an ambulance or go straight to A&E. Or ask someone else to call 999 or take you to A&E.

Do the same if someone you use with becomes unwell. Remember police do not routinely attend drug overdoses or related incidents with ambulance personnel.

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