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Stars RISE to challenge of addiction drive

SINGER Frances Black unveiled a stellar back-up cast as she launched a national campaign to highlight the emotional strain on families of addicts.

Soccer legend Paul McGrath, singer Mary Coughlan and rockers the Coronas all turned out yesterday to support Ms Black, who has spoken publicly about her battle with alcohol.

The singer issued an emotional appeal to people countrywide to support her charity, the RISE Foundation, pointing out that more than half the Irish population are currently affected in some way by addiction.

U2, Snow Patrol, Glen Hansard and Christy Moore have all donated songs to the RISE foundation for a CD -- free in today's Irish Independent -- to highlight its first awareness week which kicked-off yesterday, and runs until April 15.

Mr McGrath -- who has spoken openly about his problems with alcohol addiction -- said this was a "huge" problem for the families affected.

In the RISE fundraising book 'You Are Not Alone', Mr McGrath wrote: "I'm five months sober today and I feel great. Many people mightn't think so, but for me or anyone else with an alcohol addiction, this is amazing."

He added: "When I was playing football, a lot of the other players thought I was being a prima donna when I was drinking and playing -- they didn't understand that I couldn't stop myself."

Singer Mary Coughlan said she was conscious of the "damage caused" to her five children during her 15 years of drinking. "When you are drinking, you block all this out -- you just don't see it," she added.


Ms Black, who set up the charity designed to support families of addicts in 2008, said she still believes she is "in recovery" from an illness.

The singer is working to raise more than €1.5m to build a dedicated addiction awareness and education centre on Rathlin Island, Co Antrim, and also to finance a nationwide roll-out of its 10-week programme aimed at families of addicts.

It's estimated one in 10 people in the country have problems with alcohol. "For every one person, there are four to six people devastated by that one person," she added.

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"I feel we need to start paying more awareness to it, as people all over the country are devastated by having someone they love in addiction," Ms Black said at yesterday's launch at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin.

"When you think about addiction, you always think about the person in addiction. I just felt there needed to be support for family members. There are different addictions -- alcohol and drugs, sex, gambling, food. They all really devastate family members," she said.

"Family members have the highest stress-related anxiety disorders, stress-related heart disease and cancers."

More information on the charity and its programmes can be found at www.therisefoundation.ie

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