Almost 1,000 needles and syringes are being found by members of the public on the north-east’s streets every year, according to new figures.
A total of 658 incidents, involving at least 2,811 needles, have been reported to Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray councils since April 2015.
While the numbers have been dropping in recent years, health bosses say more work is needed.
Adam Coldwells, chief officer of the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “While it’s encouraging to see a continued fall in the amount of paraphernalia being found in public areas, there’s still much to do to tackle the challenges at the source.”
In 2015/16, a total of 244 incidents were reported. This fell to 232 the following year and 182 in 2017/18.
Part of the decline has been attributed to a change in culture towards needle users, with more people feeling able to safely use the network of needle exchanges across the region.
Wayne Gault, the lead officer with Aberdeenshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership, said: “These are places where people can receive anonymous and non-judgemental support.
“That might include the provision of injecting materials, such as needles and swabs, as we don’t want people to be sharing needles and we certainly don’t want them being discarded carelessly.
“But the deal is that, if they want more, they need to return the ones they were given previously.”
While the roughly 78 needles thrown out in public a month appears high, Mr Gault says efforts to lower these numbers are clearly working.
“We are taking about 25,000 needles per month being used in Aberdeenshire and the total is closer to 125,000 across Grampian,” he said.
“We should be astonished at the relatively small number of needles that get disposed of inappropriately.”
“Any one of us could conceivably develop a drug habit which requires injection.
“The key issue is that people feel safe to approach a needle exchange or service without stigma or prejudice.”
Anyone concerned about drug or needle use can contact Aberdeen Alcohol and Drugs Action on 01224 594700, or Aberdeenshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership on 01224 594700.