Elizabeth Vargas announced on 20/20 last night something that takes equal parts courage and fortitude – “I am an alcoholic,” the 51-year-old ABC anchor admitted. According to US Weekly on Friday, Vargas spent months in rehab last fall.
"It took me a long time to admit that to myself," she explained. "It took me a long time to admit it to my family, but I am."
Earlier in the day, in a taped interview that aired Friday on ABC's "Good Morning America," Vargas told George Stephanopoulos that hiding her problem from her family and friends had been an exhaustive process.
“I dealt with that anxiety, and with the stress that the anxiety brought, by starting to drink,” she said, calling her addiction a “staggering burden.”
Vargas said she realized that she needed help when she showed up to work on a Saturday morning, but was too drunk to tape an interview.
“Even to admit it to myself was admitting, I thought, that I was a failure,” said Vargas, who added that she herself had reported on several 20/20 specials on alcoholism.
“At night, wine was a ritual,” the mother of two confessed. “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.”
Zachary is now almost 11, and Vargas and husband Marc Cohn have another young son – Samuel, who is 7. Vargas said Cohn had repeatedly told her to get help, but she didn't listen.
“’You have a problem. You're an alcoholic,’” she recalled Cohn saying. “It made me really angry, really angry. But he was right.”
"I started thinking 'Well, you know, I'll only drink 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," Vargas recalled. "But those deals never work."
After being in rehab for a few weeks in November, Vargas said she went home, against the wishes of the unnamed facility. After spending five days at home, she realized she was not ready, and returned to finish out her rehabilitation.
Now, much like any struggling addict, she looks to her AA group, family and friends to help her stay sober. Vargas said it still is hard not to drink, but that she’s learning to lean on others.
“I'm part of AA,” she said. “I have a sponsor. I have great, great friends who I love and who love me.”