Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley's MSP has shared the fear of watching her own relative’s “hard-fought” battle to recovery in a message to families supporting their loved ones through addiction.

Elena Whitham, who is also Scotland's minister for drugs and alcohol policy, made the admission during a visit to the Back on the Road project in Glasgow, which helps those who have suffered from addiction back into work.

It comes as the latest data from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) revealed the number of drug deaths in Ayrshire remained second worst in the country over a five-year period.

This was despite the figures showing that Scotland's overall figures fell by a quarter last year.

Cumnock Chronicle: MSP Elena Whitham.MSP Elena Whitham. (Image: Newsquest)

Ms Whitham took up the ministerial post in March 2023 following her experience of working with community organisations.

The Cumnock, Carrick and Doon Valley MSP expressed her sympathies to the families affected by the drug-related deaths in Scotland, but welcomed the decline in figures from 2021, where 1,330 deaths were recorded.

But she said tackling the crisis was a personal matter for her due to understanding the everyday fear of having a loved one addicted to substances.

She said: “As a family member, having experience of family members using substances and also in recovery, I understand the fear that people have every single day that something is going to happen to their loved one.

“I want to reach out to all of those families today and those communities where people have been lost, to let them know that I am committed to making sure that we continue to deliver on this, and we’re committed to getting people into the treatment that works best for them.”

She added: “I have a family member who has been in recovery for some time but that was a real hard-fought battle to get to that place.

“Having the opportunity to work in this policy area, to me, is hugely important and it’s something that I will continue to work my hardest and reach out across all the different actors involved to make sure that we can get around the table and deliver for people in Scotland.”