It took several years, but one work assignment, for ABC News anchor Elizabeth Vargas to realize she was an alcoholic. Wine was her drink of choice.
“On a Saturday afternoon I showed up for a ’20/20′ shoot and I was in no shape to do that interview,” Vargas told George Stephanopoulos this morning on “Good Morning America.” “I got out of the car I realized what am I doing? And that’s when I knew I needed to get help.”
Vargas says she had panic attacks as a child, which continued into adulthood. “I had a panic attack on live television when I was anchoring in Chicago,” said Vargas. It continued when she joined ABC News, and, in 2006, was named co-anchor of “ABC World News Tonight.”
“Anchoring the evening news, I had to take beta blockers because I was so nervous and so anxious,” she said. “That’s exhausting to live like that and it becomes very easy to think, ‘I deserve this glass of wine. I’m so stressed out and I’m keeping it hidden.”
She went into to rehab late last year on the advice of her husband, musician Marc Cohn. She told her sons, 7 and 10, that she had an allergy to alcohol. “I stayed for 28 days and left against their advice and came home because I really wanted to come home and they said ‘we think you need to do more work.’ And I came home for five days and realized they were right and I went back and finished.”
“This isn’t what I want to be known for,” says Vargas. “But I’m really proud of what I did.”