Elizabeth Vargas made headlines last fall when she checked herself into an alcohol rehab facility and recently went public with her longtime struggle with alcoholism.
The “20/20” news anchor is now back on television, is happier and healthier than ever, and speaking about what led to her substance abuse and battle with anxiety. For many years, Vargas kept her alcoholism and a lifelong struggle with anxiety a secret. When she was a new mother, Vargas says she did what came naturally to her: drinking. “At night – that was a ritual,” Vargas said. “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, I thought that was hysterical. It didn’t occur to me that that was a problem.” Vargas denied having a problem, even when family and co-workers showed concern.
The Common Link Between Anxiety and Alcoholism
Vargas elaborated during her appearance on “The View” this past February. Even as a child, she struggled with anxiety, beginning when her father left to fight in the Vietnam War. The pressure followed her throughout school, her life as a wife and mother, and her career. “By the time I was an adolescent, I was white-knuckling my way through [the anxiety],” Vargas. “I felt nauseous almost every day. I was afraid I would throw up every day because that’s how the panic and anxiety manifested itself. And I’ve had it all through my adult life … I had to take beta-blockers when I anchored the evening news because I was so nervous. I was shaking. I thought I was going to be sick.” So, she drank to calm her nerves. After decades of self-medicating with alcohol, Vargas agreed to get help. While in alcohol rehab, she learned how to cope with her feelings and manage anxiety without turning to alcohol. “It’s amazing now that I’m not drinking, the anxiety’s much less, and I know that I have friends that I can call and people who love me, and I can reach out to them and get through it,” she said.
Admitting the Problem… and Finding Help for Alcoholism in New Jersey
Elizabeth is like many Americans that feel trapped by their emotions and alcoholism. Many people begin drinking to numb pain or forget problems. When alcohol is used to self-medicate, the drug can quickly take over the life of a problem drinker, and before long, he or she cannot stop. Just as Vargas did, it’s natural to deny such a deep-rooted problem. However, admitting to alcoholism does not signify failure. In fact, as Vargas has found, accepting a problem often causes family and loved ones to step up and offer their support and encouragement. Simply put, there is help for alcoholism… you just need to ask for it.