ABC News anchor Elizabeth Vargas shares her story of addiction and recovery

Posted at 11:23 PM, Oct 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-30 09:23:02-04

Elizabeth Vargas shared her story of her struggle with alcohol at the grand opening of a new addiction treatment center on the Eastern Shore.

"No working mother wakes up in the morning and says this would be a good day to drink so much you have to be taken to the emergency room,"  Vargas said.

In a light hearted tone the ABC News anchor revisited a very dark time in her life.

"My self-discipline in so many areas of my life worked against me admitting I had a problem," she said. "To say hey I'm still able to work every day and do a great job.  Who cares if I'm drinking three to four glasses of wine every night that led me to continue in a destructive path."

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It wasn't until her second stint in rehab that Vargas really began her road to recovery.

"My parents and my brother and my sister were amazing. They really saved my life," she said.

And what a life she's lived, covering history in the making from hurricane Katrina to life in Iraq during the war. 

She's enjoyed an Emmy award winning career at ABC News celebrating 20 years of story-telling, but sadly her story of alcohol addiction wasn't one she'd planned to share.

"It wasn't my decision to take the story public," Vargas said. "It was leaked to the press while I was in rehab which was really unfortunate for me and my children."

She said when she came out of rehab, she realized the best think to do was talk about it because so many people don't. Vargas even wrote about it in "Between Breaths, a Memoir of Panic and Addiction." She's hoping her story can save someone else.

"If you're drinking to not feel something that's troubling. That's what I was doing, drinking to manage and numb my anxiety," Vargas said. "We need to be racing to have treatment available at the same speed that people are dying."

Brian O'Neill, CEO of  Recovery Centers of America hopes Bracebridge Hall will help fill that void, no matter what the addition.

"There are 23 million people addicted to drugs and alcohol in the U.S. ad they're not getting treatment," he said. "So we need 100,000 treatment beds in facilities like this that offer first class with the best doctors that can help these Americans that are suffering.'

No one knows that better than Vargas While the road to recovery hasn't always been easy, she said she cherishes her new life.

"Part of what keeps me sober every day is remembering what a gift it is to now live this life, and love this life and experience every day to its fullest," Vargas said.

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