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ABC News anchor Elizabeth Vargas: 'I am an alcoholic'

Elizabeth Vargas: 'I Am An Alcoholic'

NEW YORK (AP) - ABC News reporter Elizabeth Vargas has publicly acknowledged that she's an alcoholic, and said it took her years to admit it.

In an interview aired Friday on "Good Morning America," Vargas said hiding her problem from others was exhausting.

"Even to admit it to myself was admitting, I thought, that I was a failure," said Vargas, who noted that she had reported several "20/20" specials on drinking yet couldn't acknowledge her own alcohol dependency.

She said she had suffered panic attacks since she was a child.

"I dealt with that anxiety, and with the stress that the anxiety brought, by starting to drink," she said.

Her go-to drink was wine which, increasingly during her adulthood, she used to manage her anxiety and stress. Her drinking "slowly escalated and got worse and worse," she said.

Meanwhile, she tried to bargain with herself.

"I started thinking, 'Well, you know, I'll only drink, you know, on weekends,'" she recalled. "'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 said her husband, singer-songwriter Marc Cohn, wasn't fooled.

"You have a problem. You're an alcoholic," she said he told her, adding that his words "made me really angry, really angry. But he was right."

Last fall, Vargas spent several weeks in a treatment facility and is now in Alcoholics Anonymous. She told "GMA" co-anchor George Stephanopoulos in the interview taped Thursday that she's proud of confronting her problem.

She said she's "learning to accept that I'm human, that there's nothing wrong with failing, that there's nothing wrong with feeling anxiety."

And she said she's ready to resume her duties Friday night as co-anchor of "20/20."

Vargas, 51, has worked in network news since 1993, first with NBC and then ABC, which she joined in 1996.

"Is it hard not to drink?" Stephanopoulos asked her.

"Yeah," Vargas replied.

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Shaver61753 January 26 2014 at 1:08 AM

I'm so proud of you for facing your problem with alcohol. I know how that was a very tough thing to face and deal with. My "first" husband was an alcoholic, and no matter how much I begged him to get help, he couldn't accept that he had a drinking problem. It finally came to the point that I had to divorce him in hopes that he would realize that he was really hitting bottom. It worked, but not until after I moved several hundred miles from him and began seeing other people. Although we never remarried, we continued to be very dear friends, and I was so proud of him when he received his 10 year pin from AA. Unfortunately, his drinking and smoking for many, many years took a toll on his health, and he passed away at the age of 55 in 2008. I miss him so much, but I am glad that he did have a good ten years of sobriety to enjoy life as he should have for so many years. Congratulations, and best wishes for continued sobriety.

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zappy41770 January 26 2014 at 12:20 AM

Speaking of 20/20, Have you tried MD2020? Try the Plum, very tasty

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nkc613 January 26 2014 at 12:19 AM

Cmon George. She must have reeked of alcohol if you sat next to her. I worked with an alcoholic, and I couldn't get too close to her or I would smell it. Maybe it came from her pores.

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Debbie January 26 2014 at 12:12 AM

A friend of mine stopped drinking in 1987, and he hasn't had a drink since, you can do it, keep going to those meetings. He went to 3 meetings a day for a couple of months.

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ament3charles January 25 2014 at 11:18 PM

Anonymity at the level of press radio film and TV. Traditions matter.

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jybingdownwind January 25 2014 at 10:31 PM

Thank you so much for speaking up. I know two people who are alcoholics, and they rationalize that they are not because they drink wine. I believe one uses it to mask the stress of anxiety, while the other drinks to mask the stress of depression. They are both on medication for these disorders but don't recognize the connection. I have distanced myself from both of them although I did try to open a discussion with both of them first. It was not welcomed. I applaud your husband, and I applaud you for dealing with it. Hang in there and keep up the good fight. You are worth it.

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LewTag January 25 2014 at 10:22 PM

If you consider all the addictions in this country there are probably more than 30 million...maybe more....all in god's will of course...who else would create addictive substances...man sure as hell would know better...not the god of holy books but the prime mover in the universe...generator, opreator, destroyer...GOD...it does whatever it wants with whomever it wants...ergo Theofatalism...google for details to feel good inside no matter what happens outside...www.theofatalism.org

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boydbrbr239 January 25 2014 at 10:21 PM

YOU HAVE DONE A GREAT JOB, I ENJOYED 20/20 FRIDAY.

Thanks,

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quincastle January 25 2014 at 9:27 PM

Congratulations on your sobriety we are all pulling for you.

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C.J. January 25 2014 at 9:03 PM

Congratulations Elizabeth, I know from personal experience how hard your journey was to this point. Much respect and continue on with your program. Enjoy watching your and hope to do so for a long time to come! ;)

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