Facilitators Guide for Drug Checking Training

This page will provide guidance for organisations who want to utilise this collaboratively produced Drug Checking Training Package. This will lay out the intended use of the resources in this package and offer advice and recommendations on how to support trainees in their learning journey.

Who for?

This training package was developed to support all licensed drug checking providers. It is available to any current licence holder and those looking to get licensed. The current content and assets are aimed at practitioners working at the front line, in ‘basic’ operations. There is currently no content provided to support those in supervisor roles.

Who by?

This has been developed by the training working group/sub-committee which is made up of representatives from stakeholder groups within the Aotearoa New Zealand Drug Checking programme. Primarily developed by KnowYourStuffNZ (KYSNZ), New Zealand Drug Foundation (NZDF), New Zealand Needle Exchange Programme (NEP), and the Institute for Environmental Science & Research (ESR). This project was funded by Te Whatu Ora.

This project was developed throughout 2022 when only 3 licensed public providers of Drug Checking services were active. These service providers all utilised similar technologies, methods and kaupapa and were therefore framed as the primary ‘customers’ of this project. 

The continued upkeep and development of this training system is not currently resourced or coordinated but all contributing organisations intend to continue to support this. We hope the current form of the training package is just the first iteration with many more to follow.

If you have any questions, feedback, or concerns, please contact training@knowyourstuff.nz


All existing content was developed with the goal of being both immediately applicable, and general enough that it can be utilised by any organisation within any service delivery model.

Learner-facing content & assets

Visit the Drug Checking Training Hub Webpage. Share this link with your trainees to access the Digital Training Modules:https://knowyourstuff.nz/training-hub/

Digital Training Modules

Intended for self-paced online learning. These were built to address the basic competencies required for drug checking practitioners. These are meant to be accompanied by other training & development processes and should not be treated as a complete training suite.

  1. Drug Checking Sector Overview

  2. Sample Handling and Analysis

  3. Tools & Equipment

  4. Harm Reduction Information

User Guides

Intended as reference material for use in practice or for self-paced revision. These are focused on specific procedural, step-by-step practices and include:

  1. Spectrometer Use

  2. Records & Data Keeping

Note: these digital resources are not hosted on a Learning Management System (LMS) and therefore they do not track progress, answers, or provide any other form of evaluation. The modules include knowledge-check questions and tasks which the learner must answer correctly in order to proceed, but there is no embedded record of who has accessed or completed each module. If you require something like this for your training process, you must define and implement this yourself.

Visit the Drug Checking Training Hub Webpage. Share this link with your trainees to access the Digital Training Modules:https://knowyourstuff.nz/training-hub/

Supporting resources for trainers

As well as these learner-facing resources, we also have some resources to support trainers or supervisors who might be facilitating training and mentoring trainees. You can download and use each of these resources as you like.

  • Drug Checking Competencies Matrix
    The competencies matrix is a high-level framework which describes the competencies identified as core to drug checking services.

    • Designed as an evaluation tool to assess whether a trainee has achieved proficiency in each area of drug checking practices.
    • 26 Competencies are grouped into five sections: Foundations, Processes, Tools & Equipment, Sample Handling & Analysis, and Harm Reduction Information & Advice
    • Each competency has several related skills or procedures associated with it.
  • Workshop Outline
    This is another high level resource intended to support experienced drug checking trainers who are facilitating training or workshops. 

      • Outlines every skill, practice, and key information point which a trainer might need to cover. 
      • Does not provide a detailed lesson plan with content for trainers to follow.
      • Includes pedagogical recommendations for how each topic is best taught or learnt. E.g whether written-learning or hands-on practice is ideal for a given topic.
      • Includes basic evaluation notes for trainers/assessors to follow when assessing a trainee’s competencies.
  • Standard Operating Procedures List

    • This is a list of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) which are mentioned in the training material, and which each organisation is recommended to have in place. These SOP’s will guide trainees within your organisation in how to follow the specific practices and procedures used by your organisation in your operating model. E.g instructions for how your organisation receives, stores, and processes samples which are retained for further analysis such as sending to ESR.

Existing Resources

As well as the bespoke resources developed and distributed as part of this training package there is a swathe of helpful resources available to Drug Checking service providers. Some of these are developed and maintained by contributing organisations and others are totally external and publicly available.

  • The Level: https://thelevel.org.nz/
    This branch of the New Zealand Drug Foundation is designed as a Aotearoa-focused hub for harm reduction information. You’ll find all sorts of helpful things such as writeups about specific drugs, news about Drug Checking service sites/events, and how to use Fentanyl Test Strips.



How is this training package intended to be used?

The scope of this initial iteration of the drug Checking training package is limited, for now, to basic learning materials, a set of recommendations for trainers, and an ongoing offer of support and advice from the contributing organisations. 

What is not included in the package:

  • No definition of ‘qualified
    As this sector is very young, the variance between service providers, operation models, contexts, and staffing is very wide. As such, we have chosen not to develop a formal or official standard which would define a ‘qualified’ or fully trained drug checking practitioner. This is up to each organisation to define and implement as they choose. Note that the common licensing and regulations which govern our services serve as boundary posts for what is expected of all service providers.
  • No evaluation or assessment system
    As above, with no standard qualification system, we also have not developed a system for evaluating or assessing the competency of trainees. One significant implication of this is that the digital learning modules do not have any in-built tracking or pass/fail functionality. This means that each organisation needs to have some kind of internal means for keeping track of the learning progress of their trainees. The Competencies Matrix is a key asset which supports organisations to develop these internal evaluation/tracking systems.
  • No lesson plans
    Although a high-level workshop outline is provided, this is not at the level of a detailed lesson plan for facilitators to follow. As every organisation has a unique kaupapa, culture, facilities, and operating model, it was not practical to develop detailed lesson plans at this stage. The contributors to this training package are available to advise and co-design bespoke workshops and training plans if requested.


Recommendations for training methods

The Training Modules are excellent at introducing trainees to the big picture of Drug Checking, and some specifics such as FTIR Spectrometer use. But they require support and supplementary training to ensure trainees are capable of providing drug checking in your specific context. As these modules are meant for anyone, they won’t instruct trainees in how to care for your Service Users (clients) or exactly how you handle samples & record data. So you need to provide additional training to support your people. Here are some suggestions on how that supplementary training could look.

  • Mentoring & Supervision
    Some kind of supervision model is very helpful for all stages of drug checking training & practice, at all skill levels. Whether it’s answering technical questions like “why is the spectrometer doing X?”, or debriefing after a challenging conversation with a service user, it’s important practitioners always know where to find support.
  • Hands-On Workshops
    Experiential learning is essential, especially for technical and hands-on skills such as sample handling, utilising analytical tools & equipment like reagents & spectrometers.
  • Handbooks & Manuals
    Visual/Written resources which provide instructions on how to operate in your operating model with your tools, your context, and your systems.

Below is an outline of the training pathways developed by some contributing organisations and serve as recommendations for how you might shape your own training systems.



With a primarily volunteer-based staffing structure and a very distributed organisational structure, KYSNZ has a slow and steady approach to training their people.

Training Pathway in KYSNZ

  • Volunteer applies to work with us
  • If application accepted then they are invited to an Introductory workshop
  • Volunteer is now a novice trainee. They are offered a range of training opportunities:
    • Trainees can come along to community clinics and observe our operations. No unsupervised work. 
    • Can complete digital learning modules in their own time
    • Technical skills and operational training is required before they can operate equipment without supervision
    • Harm Reduction training is required before they can deliver results and discuss harm reduction with clients without training
  • Once trained and mentored by supervisors they are signed off as capable and can operate without direct supervision
  • KnowYourStuffNZ always has a supervising Shift Lead at every drug checking service and a clear chain of responsibility which Shift Leads can escalate and consult at any time.


Training processes/tools utilised by KYSNZ

  • Basic Introduction/Onboarding WorkshopIn person and/or Online
    • STEP ONE – the beginning for everyone in KYSNZ
    • These workshops are either run locally or online for anyone in our various regions to join. This introduces people to the kaupapa of our organisation and gives a brief overview of the history and context of KYSNZ and drug checking. We explore the operating model of KYSNZ including the values and principles we uphold, the pathways for volunteer work, and the training opportunities available.
  • Mentoring & Supervision
    • All our volunteers and staff have clear lines of supervision, especially our novice trainees, who are always accompanied by an experienced supervisor (our Shift Lead & Event Lead roles).
    • Our volunteers are supervised on every task until their supervisor is comfortable they are competent of performing that on their own.
  • Digital Training Modules (~4 hours)
    • All volunteers & staff are asked to complete each module
    • We ask everyone to discuss their progress with their supervisor and go over any questions which arise
  • Workshops offered (~9 hours)
    • Introduction to KYSNZ & Drug Checking (online & in person) ~3hrs
    • Technical Skills and Operations (In person only) ~3hrs
    • Harm Reduction Information & Communication (online & in person) ~3hrs
    • Special interest workshops e.g on new processes we implement or technologies as they emerge