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CASUALTY star Brenda Flicker has been admitted to hospital to help fight her addiction to painkillers.

Brenda, 56, the only Irish female movie star to claim an Oscar, was taken in to Dublin's Beaumont Hospital during the week as a first step in a determined bid to overcome her drug problem.

Close friends confirmed yesterday the Dublin-based actress, who won her oscar for her performance in My Left Foot, is to enter the Rutland Drug Treatment Centre, after her discharge from the Beaumont Hospital.

Ironically, Brenda, who is known to have suffered from severe bouts depression for years, had just finished a role in Chasing the Dragon a movie based on the Irish drug trafficking scene and the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin, when she decided to take action to cure her addiction.

Before she found fame in Hollywood, Fricker was a huge hit on the small screen as stoic, dependable nurse Megan Roach in the BBC series Casualty.

The backbone of the accident and emergency department at Holby City Hospital, Nurse Roach always kept her head in every crisis.

She joined the series in 1986 and was there for four years but is still remembered as one of the programme's most popular characters.

One close friend of the star said yesterday: "Her life was turning into a nighmare because of her constant need for painkillers and sleeping tablets.

"She isn't into hard drugs but over-the-counter pills that you can pick up in any pharmacy.

"Her depression started her popping pain killers and she couldn't sleep unless she had loads of sleeping tablets.

"She got hooked on a range of other over-the-counter sedatives, and she simply couldn't stop.

"All her friends were terribly worried, they know what she has gone through and advised her to take this step.

"Between her insomnia, and the depression, there is no one to help Brenda but herself, and she now realizes it.

"The fact that she has faced up to her problem so courageously says it all, it can help others to bite the bullet and get their lives back on the rails."

Brenda had to turn down some major offers in recent months, because she was feeling so low.

But friends predict after treatment she will be back in a big way, grabbing all the major roles for which she is frequently chased after, by directors.

In the latest blockbuster, Chasing the Dragon which was directed by Joel Schumaker, Brenda was joined by Lord of the Rings star Cate Blanchett.

Dublin actor Colin Farrell, 26, now much sought after in Hollywood, and whose latest film, Hart's War, is due to be screened in Dublin next week, also has a role in the movie, with actors Gerard McSorley, and former Fair City star, Joe Hanley, who plays the part of Veronica Guerin's alleged killer Dutchy Holland.

Close friends of Brenda revealed the movie star is however 'not terribly worried' about the news leaking out.

"The way she sees it, if it helps others to help themselves she will be happy she is really the kindest hearted person in the world but doesn't what anyone to to think she's an attention seeker," said another close friend.

Brenda's home is in the Liberties area of Dublin and she also owns a house at Oughterard in Co. Galway, close to where friend and actor Joe Pilkington, who died three years ago, had lived.

Another friend of the star added last night: "We are all delighted to see Brenda taking this step, we believe it will be the beginning of a new phase in her life in which the movie world will see a lot more of her acting talent."


AWARD: Only Irish female Oscar; MY LEFT FOOT: Daniel Day Lewis; TREATMENT: The actress was admitted to Dublin's Beaumont Hospital
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 26, 2002
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