Drugs and Alcohol Consultancy Service

Extern DACS

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 NI. Extern are now the largest provider of drugs and alcohol support services in the Northern Ireland. These services include:

  • Northern Area Low Threshold Service
  • Southern Area Low Threshold Service
  • Drugs Accommodation Support Project
  • Dual Diagnosis/Rough Sleepers Street Team Service
  • Northern Area Step 2 Service
  • Street Injecting Support Service

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 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.

DACS 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 previously held posts in the voluntary and statutory sectors.

Contact us

Further information is available by emailing chris.rintoul@extern.org or by calling +44 2890 840 555

Extern in Northern Ireland
Registered with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland NIC105869
Company Registration No: NI 16083
Tel: +44 (0)28 9084 0555
Fax: +44 (0)28 9084 7333
Extern in the Republic of Ireland
Company Registration No: 383201
Registered Charity Number: 20055318
Tel: +353 (0) 1 563 9402
Extern Group
Registered with The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland NIC103226
Company No. NI 618684
Tel: +44 (0)28 9084 0555
Fax: +44 (0)28 9084 7333
Extern Supporting Communities
Company No. NI 637561
Tel: +44 (0)28 9084 0555
Fax: +44 (0)28 9084 7333