Elizabeth Vargas Back On TV, ‘I’m An Alcoholic’

    January 25, 2014
    Kimberly Ripley

Elizabeth Vargas made her television return this week following a lengthy rehab stay, admitting publicly that she is an alcoholic. Vargas entered rehab last fall, and actually returned home once prior to completing her program, believing she was ready to go home and deal with her problems herself. She quickly learned she wasn’t and returned to the program–staying until doctors deemed her ready to leave.

Elizabeth Vargas returned to TV Friday in a pre-taped interview with George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America.

“I am an alcoholic,” she admitted. “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.”

Vargas says the moment she truly knew she needed help came when she realized she wasn’t in any kind of shape to do a scheduled interview. She says wine was always her drink of choice.

“I should’ve realized it was a problem way back when Zachary, my oldest son, was born. And he used to call my nightly glass of wine ‘mommy’s juice.’ You know, and I thought that was hysterical. It didn’t occur to me that that was a problem,” she said.

Marc Cohn, Elizabeth Vargas’s husband, previously told her she needed help, but Vargas wasn’t ready to even think about his statement’s implications.

“‘You have a problem. You’re an alcoholic,'” she recalled her husband saying to her. “It made me really angry, really angry. But he was right.”

As with many alcoholics, Elizabeth dealt with two common triggers–stress and anxiety–that led her to those glasses of wine.

That’s exhausting, to live like that,” she explained. “And it becomes very easy to think ‘I deserve this glass of wine. I’m so stressed out . . .'”

“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,” she added. “But those deals never work.”

During an interview on 20/20 Friday night, Vargas recalls suffering from anxiety and having panic attacks ever since she was a little girl and her dad was deployed to Vietnam. She begged her mom not to leave her with babysitters to go to work, fearing she wouldn’t come back for a long time either.

These days Elizabeth leans on her family–husband Marc and sons Zachary, who is almost 11, and Samuel, who is 7, when she feels panic attacks or even milder bouts of anxiety coming on.

“I’m part of AA,” she said. “I have a sponsor. I have great, great friends who I love and who love me.”

Elizabeth Vargas is a huge part of 20/20 and fans will no doubt be thrilled to see her return to its helm as anchor. With the regular support she now receives for alcoholism–and her outspoken admission to her friends and her viewers–she will not only serve to help others take that important first step, but is far better equipped to deal with her own addiction, too.

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Kimberly Ripley
Kimberly Ripley is a freelance writer and published author from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. A wife, mom of five and 'Nana' to Lilly and Aiden, she loves cooking for her big family and watching HGTV in her spare time. Kim is guilty of starting way more home design projects than she can finish. Visit her at Twitter and Facebook.