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Elizabeth Vargas opens up about her alcoholism, treatment and recovery

Elizabeth Vargas opens up about her alcoholism, treatment and recovery

By Phyllis Stark. CREATED Jan 25, 2014

During an appearance on “Good Morning America” Jan. 24, “20/20” anchor Elizabeth Vargas, 51, admitted to being an alcoholic and spoke candidly about her treatment and recovery. News first broke of her struggle in early November when it was learned she’d checked herself into rehab clinic.

"I am an alcoholic," Vargas told "GMA" co-anchor George Stephanopoulos,” according to the New York Daily News. "It took me a long time to admit that to myself. It took me a long time to admit it to my family, but I am."
 
She added, “The amount of energy I expended keeping that secret and keeping this problem hidden from view was exhausting.
 
"I started thinking 'Well, you know, I'll only drink, you know, on weekends. I'll only drink, you know, two glasses of wine a night. I won't drink on nights before I have to get up and do 'Good Morning America.' But those deals never work,” she told Stephanopoulos.
 
She admitted that her husband, singer Marc Cohn, flat-out told her “You have a problem. You're an alcoholic," and she says, "It made me really angry, really angry. But he was right. I mean, denial is huge for any alcoholic.”
 
Vargas came to the realization she needed treatment after she says the drinking began to affect her work, including one day she was “in no shape’ to do an interview. Her two sons, ages 7 and 10, also began to notice her nightly wine consumption.
 
According to the Daily News, “Vargas completed two stints in rehab in November and is now ready to go back to work.” Vargas first stayed in rehab for 28 days before leaving against the doctor’s recommendation, but ended up returning after being home for only five days. She is now a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and said, "Alcohol for me is no longer an option."
 
She admitted part of what led her to the bottle was her battle with stress and panic attacks, saying, “I dealt with that anxiety, and with the stress that the anxiety brought by starting to drink. And it slowly escalated and got worse and worse.” Among the other factors that led to her excessive drinking, Vargas said, was that “I felt like I had to be, you know, perfect, which is ridiculous, nobody's perfect."
 
She added, “You know, this isn't what I want to be known for, but I'm really proud of what I did” and also said she’s learned “to accept that I'm human. That there's nothing wrong with failing, that there's nothing wrong with feeling anxiety."
 
Phyllis Stark

Phyllis Stark

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Phyllis Stark is the Digital Executive Producer - National Content for Journal Broadcast Group.