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.

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 team

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.

Latest training opportunities


Contact us

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

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