ABC News’ Elizabeth Vargas on Her Rehab, Alcoholism in ‘GMA’ Interview (Video)

January 24, 2014

ABC News 20/20 Anchor Elizabeth Vargas spoke out for the first time since leaving rehab for alcohol abuse in a television interview with GMA co-anchor George Stephanopoulos. She discussed how she came to realize she was an alcoholic and the struggles she had undergone in realizing she needed help and how she is doing post-rehab.

The 51-year-old Elizabeth Vargas had announced her decision to enter rehab in an official statement in which she said she was “dealing with addiction” after realizing her dependence on alcohol.

Now a few months later, out of rehab, in an interview broadcast on ‘Good Morning America,’ she told George Stephanopoulos, “I am. I am an alcoholic. 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 went on to say, “The amount of energy I expended keeping that secret and keeping this problem hidden from view was exhausting.”

Elizabeth Vargas went on to say that her drink of choice was wine, and that she had been in denial. She said, “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 revealed that alcohol had become her way of coping with the anxiety and panic attacks she had since childhood: “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.”

She said that her husband knew and confronted her, telling her that she had a problem, that she was an alcoholic. She said, “It made me really angry, really angry. But he was right.”

Vargas also revealed that when she finally went into rehab she left after 28 days against doctor’s orders, but returned when she realized she needed to do further work, and completed her full stint. Asked how she knew it was then time to leave, she said, “It’s a psychic change, I think. I mean, it’s learning to accept that I’m human. That there’s nothing wrong with failing, that there’s nothing wrong with feeling anxiety.”

As for her life post-rehab Vargas said that she is now in Alcoholics Anonymous and has a sponsor. She added, “I have great, great friends who I love and who love me.”

She also spoke about learning how to cope with feelings, saying of them they’re “not going to kill you. You have to experience them.” she said never having previously had such coping skills “makes it tough some days.” She added, ” “Alcohol for me is no longer an option.”

The full interview video is below. Elizabeth Vargas is extremely candid and goes into some depth about her background and how she hid her drinking and even admits how it began to impact her work on television. As was her initial announcement to go into rehab, it is courageous and should prove encouraging not just to substance abusers but to anyone confronting challenges and stresses in life.

Elizabeth Vargas also makes her return to the Friday night program ’20/20′ of which she is co-anchor.

Pictures: PR Photos

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