Newsanchor Elizabeth Vargas has covered dozens of major events throughout her journalism career. Behind the headlines she presented to the public, though, lurked her own intense and life-threatening battle with alcoholism.
After taking a professional hiatus in 2012 to attend addiction treatment, Vargas’ private struggle was leaked to the press in 2014. Her drinking had continued, and her subsequent stays in rehab had culminated in a split from her husband, singer-songwriter Marc Cohn.
Cohn filed for divorce just days after Vargas revealed her addiction to the public.
ABC, Vargas’ employer, stated that she must remain sober in order to keep her job. They later discovered that her drinking had resumed once more—and this time, it was more alarming than ever before. Vargas’ sister Aimie worried for her nephews’ safety.
In an interview with 20/20, Aimie said, “I thought she was going to lose the boys, and I thought she was going to lose her job. We all did.”
Vargas’ family and colleagues then rallied together, while Elizabeth attended detox, and eventually became a resident of a sober home.
Today, she is sober, and speaking openly about her experience. In the 20/20 piece, Vargas reflected with Diane Sawyer upon the visible signs of alcoholism that had surfaced in her work. Her drinking, in one instance, led to a blackout incident that was associated with a .4 blood alcohol level.
Vargas’ new book, Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction, is a raw exploration of Vargas’ lowest lows—and of the renewed purpose she has found in recovery. Through detailing her relapses, her fractured relationships, and her continued battle with the disease.
Her story is one that has resonated with many. As she told People, “I think it’s important for any person to own their own story, the good parts and the bad.”
As Vargas embarks on an open conversation with the same public she has presented news to for over thirty years, she reaffirms her sobriety, and shines a light on a dark subject matter that affects millions of individuals and families nationwide.
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