Extern's Drugs & Alcohol Consultancy Service delivers specialist training to individuals wanting to gain awareness of drug & alcohol misuse and practice methods for individuals who misuse substances.

What is DACS?

Extern set up DACS in 2017 to build on our expertise in supporting people with alcohol or drug problems. This service sprang from 20 years of delivering services in the homelessness and addictions field in Northern Ireland. Extern are now the largest provider of drugs and alcohol support services in the country. These services include:

What does DACS do?

DACS provides specialist training commissioned by the Public Health Agency for particular groups. These courses include:

  • Naloxone Administration: Opioid overdose response
  • Naloxone Administration: Training for trainers
  • Reducing Injecting-Related Harms
  • Needle and Syringe Provision

We also provide drug-related information resources such as on naloxone, pregabalin for workers,  pregabalin for users and an assessment of injecting drug use.

Queens University Belfast have partnered with us in setting up the new Masters in Substance Use Disorders, available in 2019. We will deliver some of the teaching content as part of the collaboration as well as chair the programme.

DCAS promotes the work Extern does in the drugs and alcohol field and seeks to ensure that those who use drugs and alcohol in harmful ways receive the best possible support and treatment options. The pressures on frontline staff and services are immense but can be ameliorated by staff who are competent and confident in their practice, understand the issues faced by their clients and are effective in their work. DACS aims to ensure they are equipped in these ways.

We have been invited to speak about Extern services at worldwide conferences in Montreal in 2017 and New Orleans in 2018. In addition we hosted our own conference in February 2018 in response to increasing concerns about injecting drug use in Belfast city centre.

DACS receive many queries for assistance both within Extern and externally. We aim to respond to all requests within a week. A recent example of this is a request from a homelessness service on managing drug-related risks in the hostel environment. In this case the staff team were provided training and their management assisted to develop an effective drugs policy.

Why do we provide DACS?

Extern believe that everyone should have repeated chances to fulfil their potential and to reach their maximum possible level of independence. We have adopted low threshold and harm reduction approaches to help us to engage and intervene positively with those who use drugs or alcohol in harmful ways.

A low threshold approach is one which makes it easy to enter the service and harm reduction seeks to reduce drug-related harms without requiring abstinence. These approaches allow us to provide person-centred interventions and maximise the therapeutic alliance so important to any health behaviour change.


The service is staffed by Chris Rintoul with support from a range of other staff within Extern who are experienced workers in the field. Chris has been a qualified social worker since 1999 and has worked within the homelessness and addictions sectors since 1994. He has worked for Extern since 2016 and held posts in the voluntary and statutory sectors previous to then.

Specialist Training

Naloxone Training

Naloxone is an easy to administer medication which temporarily reverses an opioid overdose by blocking the opioid receptors in the brain. It is an emergency medication, in the same category as epinephrine (for anaphylaxis) and glycogen (for diabetic coma). In NI we give out naloxone and train relevant people to administer it after they undertake relevant training. In support of this, Extern deliver 2 training courses for those working with people at risk of opioid overdose.

These full-day courses are delivered by staff with expertise on the management of this issue. Chris Rintoul, who manages Extern’s Drugs and Alcohol Consultancy Service will deliver the formal teaching content.

The 2 courses available are:

1. Training for Trainers
2. Training on Naloxone Administration

Upcoming training dates

Book my place

Introduction to Reducing Injecting-related Harms training

Extern are pleased to offer this 1 day training course over the course of 2019 and 2020. It is available free of charge as a result of Public Health Agency (PHA) funding.

The learning objectives for the day are:

1. Participants will have an understanding of heroin use: the injecting process; injecting equipment; where on the body people inject; smoking heroin.

2. Participants will have an understanding of the risks involved in injecting (types of blood borne viruses and infection risks; high risk injection sites; infections /abscesses, deep vein thrombosis.)

3. Participants will have an understanding of basic harm reduction practices in relation to injecting drug use.

4. Participants will know what services are available for injecting drug users; and will be aware of the care pathways for their clients.

Upcoming training dates

Book my place

Safer Cocaine and Crack Use Training

Availability of cocaine powder has increased across NI since the beginning of the millennium. Most of this has been associated with the night time economy and used alongside alcohol. In 2017 powder cocaine was involved in 13 fatal overdoses, an increase of 10 from the previous year.

Cocaine is a stimulant drug which is usually snorted, acting on the brain and central nervous system. It produces feelings of exhilaration and makes the user feel energised. Crack and freebase cocaine are not snorted but primarily smoked. All types of cocaine can be prepared for injection if the user has the necessary equipment and knowledge.

Extern are aware of the increased use of cocaine generally, and the emergence of crack cocaine especially in Belfast. We are providing a 1-day training course for frontline practitioners to equip them to understand the use of cocaine/crack, it’s impacts and how to work effectively with users.


The course will cover the following:

Types of cocaine

  • Physical and psychobiological effects
  • Overdose presentations and management
  • Dependence
  • Polydrug use with cocaine
  • Common risks
  • Assessment of use
  • Paraphernalia
  • Risk management/harm reduction
  • Interventions including the self-control model
  • Management of the ‘comedown’


Learning methods will include a case study, making safer crack pipes, a baseline knowledge quiz, videos and a presentation. Attendees will receive a comprehensive pack including all handouts and 3 types of crack pipe.

The training will be delivered by Chris Rintoul of Extern’s Drugs and Alcohol Consultancy Service. Chris has worked with the social care field since 1991 and has a particular expertise in reducing drugrelated harms. He provides specialist training, lecturing and consultancy as well as developing written drug-related resources for users and practitioners.

Venue and Times

Wednesday 23rd October 2019 from 9:30am to 4:30pm at:


Hydepark House

3 McKinney Road


BT36 4PE

Tel: 02890 840555

A fee of £75 per attendee to include all training materials, lunch and refreshments.

If you are interested in attending this training please email your completed booking form to [email protected] 

Contact us

Further information is available by emailing [email protected] or by calling +44 2890 840 555

Read out latest blogs

Illicit drug use in Northern Ireland

As 2018 ends

Substance Use in the Media

Opioid Overdose in NI

A Health Care Approach to Tackling Problem Substance Use