Today, when Elizabeth Vargas was walking on the streets of New York City on a warm night, passing by a bar full of wine drinkers, it was a very different experience for her.
"I don't look at them, I want one," Vargas said . ".
"But I looked at them and I thought, 'I miss them.
I miss the time when I was so naive and romantic.
But it's just that I romanticize some of the things that are really terrible for me.
The veteran ABC News Network anchor sat down with Diane Sawyer for the special edition of ABC News "20/20", talking for the first time about her long-standing experience of fighting alcohol and anxiety, and her recovery.
In the interview and her new book "breathing between: Memoirs of panic and addiction", Vargas shared her experience of repeated recurrence, almost fired by ABC News, her marriage to the singer
Song author Mark Cohen ended largely because she was drinking.
Vargas, 54, said she touched the bottom two years ago and she knew that it was an elegant act for her to live today.
On one occasion, she said, her blood alcohol levels reached.
"Even then, it didn't scare me to stop," Vargas said . ".
"However, it doesn't matter how much or how much you have when you are in the cycle of this disease, I-
It's okay, "she continued. “It leveled me.
It smashed my ass.
I can't see anything.
When she was 30
During her one-year career, Vargas is known for her excellent coverage around the world, her hard interviews, and her stability in breaking news live coverage. On Sept.
2001, Vargas took over the breaking news report of ABC News anchor Peter Jennings.
In addition to the "20/20", Vargas also cooperates frequently.
Good Morning, America.
On 2016 alone, Vargas reported the Orlando nightclub shooting, the Dallas shooting ambush, the death of pop star Prince and the death of boxing icon Mohammed Ali.
For years, Vargas said she, like anyone else, drinks socially until she touches the bottom, and she can control it.
"There are days when you wake up and you feel terrible, the only thing that makes you feel better is more alcohol," she said . ".
"When you fall into the whirlpool of death.
"This year, according to the National Institute of alcohol and alcohol research, more than 30 million Americans have fallen into the fight against alcohol (NIAAA)
Is a branch of the National Institutes of Health.
The hardest part, Vargas says, is knowing that her alcohol abuse has affected her two sons, 13-year-old Zachary and 10-year-old Sam.
"I don't know if I will forgive myself for hurting them by drinking," she said . ".
Vargas says she has never put her children at risk for drinking and has never driven under the influence.
"But let me say something," she said . ".
"Because I have not physically endangered my children, it does not mean that I have not destroyed them emotionally or mentally, nor put them in danger.
Vargas grew up in a military family and moved to 14 families, 9 military bases and 8 schools as a child.
When she was young, she said that she was anxious and even panic attacks every day, but she learned to hide them.
As she began working as a local journalist in the West, her struggle with that extreme insecurity continued.
"Because I am basically so insecure and anxious, afraid that I have never learned to ask for help in my life," Vargas said . ".
Research shows that nearly 63% of women with alcohol problems say they are also fighting anxiety.
But when she first started, Vargas said she didn't understand at the time that alcohol-drinking illness would slowly take over and threaten her life.
Vargas said: "There is a real temptation . . . . . . Whitewash what you do, 'not as bad as everyone says,' or 'not as bad as I remember '. ".
"I have my own recording on TV for good or bad, and the recording reminds me how bad it is.
Vargas said that after she got her first job, she started drinking and the news team will travel to the local bar after work.
"It's like, 'I finally feel relaxed,' said Vargas. '".
"All my insecurities will fade.
When she married Mark Cohen in 2002, she finally found someone to talk to about her insecurities, and Mark Cohen is known for his song "Walking in Memphis.
She said he used to sing and coax her to sleep and calm her down.
But even before they got married, Vargas said, he noticed that she was drinking at night.
"He thought I drank too much," she said . ".
"I remember being very angry when he said it, grabbing my arm and saying, 'You have a problem with drinking, 'which made me very angry.
Her words caught her attention, she said, and she did control drinking for several years.
She gave birth to their two sons and took care of them while continuing to work-even with a miscarriage.
On August, Peter Jennings died of complications from lung cancer.
2005, Bob Woodruff of Vargas and ABC was named co-
Host of World News Tonight
But 27 days later, he was seriously injured by an improvised explosive device in Iraq.
"This is devastating.
"It's devastating for everyone who works there," Vargas said . ".
"I feel like I'm in a hurricane of life.
Four months later, she was replaced by senior anchor Charlie Gibson.
"I was demoted," she said . "
"No icing. ” The self-
The suspicion of anger and fear growled.
By 2009, Ms. Vargas said she felt her husband had left.
As she was still struggling to be a good mom and become a huge financial responsibility for the family, she became resentful and tired of all the trips, and she said wine was her comfort.
Eventually, she said she began keeping the amount of alcohol she drank private.
"You know, I'll stop on my way home and have a drink or two at the bar," Vargas said . ".
"One person, it feels really pathetic, you know I'll pretend to talk to someone on my phone.
When she comes home, she says she will pop up a few Altoids and hopes that she will not "breathe liquor smoke" when she greets the children ".
But like millions of other people, Vargas said she didn't think she had a drinking problem because she didn't drink all the time and had no family history of drinking.
Over time, she said that a glass of her evening wine turned into a full bottle, which her husband noticed.
"In contrast, this makes all the real issues that we need to discuss and resolve insignificant," Vargas said . ".
"You know, 'What do you want to say?
Why don't you ask me how I'm doing today?
Or why don't you support me more?
Why do you drink two bottles of chardonnay every night? ’ You know?
I just changed the story in a very dramatic and disruptive way.
Vargas once said she even hid a few bottles of wine under the bathroom sink.
"Looking at myself in the mirror and thinking, 'This is me, 'she said," sneak into my own bathroom and sip half a glass of wine from my toothpaste cup, so I can spend another hour feeling good.
She said she fell into a mode of secret drinking and then rewarded herself by taking a vacation.
Her sister, Aimie Vargas, did not know how much she drank until they traveled with the children in the 2011 summer.
"It was in the afternoon and she was drunk," said Amy Vargas . ".
"She told me that she drank too much because she was very unhappy.
When Amy tried to intervene, Elizabeth said she was not an alcoholic but had a hard time.
A year later, in 2012, she spent a holiday in Florida with Mark and the children.
"That was our big holiday and the idea of my vacation was to empty the mini bar by drinking everything inside," Vargas said . ".
Mark was very worried about her and he arranged for a nurse to sneak into the hotel room and re-inject her
On one occasion, she said her son Sam walked into the room.
Vargas said: "I drink and sleep, and I do remember clearly that one afternoon Sam stood on my head and said in bed, 'Mom, when do you get up. '".
"I remember I could smell the sunscreen and I could feel the heat in his little body as he just came in from the beach.
"I will not give every second of thought to die for my child and kill for my child," she continued . ".
"But I can't stop drinking for my kids.
"After a vacation in 2012 Florida, Vargas decided to visit her first rehab facility in secret, telling her ABC news boss she had medical problems.
The minimum stay time at these facilities is usually 30 days, but Vargas said she was "so deceiving and denying" that she persuaded the rehabilitation facility to let her only come for two weeks.
Over time, doctors say, heavy drinking changes the structure of brain and body cells.
Chemical receptors begin to require more alcohol to feel normal, and the first three months of trying to wake up are the most dangerous for recurrence.
Vargas said she started drinking again a few weeks after she was discharged.
She never drinks on ABC News's live TV, but she rarely drinks before the interview, which affects her performance.
Vargas said she was drinking to calm her nerves, but there was an example that led to a terrible power outage.
"Once on a Saturday," she said.
"I woke up that morning, I felt terrible, the trembling, terrible, trembling heart . . . . . . I'm on my way to Columbus Avenue.
In New York
I saw a liquor store.
"On the way to the interview, Vargas said she stopped the car and bought the wine and drank some bottles before she started recording.
After that, Vargas said she slipped into a nearby room for drinks.
When she got on the bus and drove home, she said the last thing she remembered was to fasten her seat belt.
Her next memory is to wake up in the emergency room.
"I don't know where I went.
I don't know what I did.
"I don't know what I drank," Vargas said . ".
"I drank enough wine to reach the level of deadly blood alcohol.
From that day on, Vargas pieced together what had happened.
She now knows that she is wandering around the Riverside Park in New York, and a stranger driving past saw her and stopped to help.
"I can tell her my address," Vargas said . ".
"She said she saw some men nearby and she didn't like the way I might be a vulnerable person at the time and she brought [back] herehome].
I was obviously unconscious.
"While their child was still upstairs, her husband called 911 and did not know that their mother was in a coma in the lobby of the apartment building. After her near-
On 2012, Vargas told the president of ABC News that she needed a break to fight addiction.
"I was too embarrassed for him because I thought drinking was too feminine," she said . ".
"It's hard for me to say the word even now, so I told him about alcohol and ambyn.
With the support of ABC, Vargas went to the rehabilitation center for a whole month.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, at least 2,300 Americans die from alcoholism each year, although some experts believe the number is underreported.
On average, an alcoholic needs three to four attempts to stay awake.
After a full month in rehab, Vargas began drinking again soon.
She said: "It took me only six months, and seven months later, I went back to the bathroom mirror and looked at myself and wanted to know 'how did I come here. '. ".
Vargas said her parents, sister and brother all took the time to try and help her.
"You stand there looking at the wreckage of the train.
"It's terrible," said Amy Vargas, her sister . ".
"You just want to shake her and say, 'Why are you doing this to yourself?
After that, Elizabeth went to another rehab center for a month, but after a few days at home, she went back after her brother Chris Vargas flew in from California to take her.
"I walked into her apartment and she was completely gone," said Chris Vargas . ".
"It's already 7: 30. There are a few empty bottles next to her bed . . . . . . I remember I wanted to tell her, 'Look, you can walk into a room, you can light that room, but don't get drunk.
"In the 2014 incident, Vargas was forced to openly drink alcohol after being leaked to the media.
She sat down for an interview with George Stephen PLOS of ABC News.
In the same year, her husband came to her and said he wanted a divorce.
ABC also informed her to stay awake or lose her job.
That summer, Vargas decided to take the kids on vacation and rented a beach house in California to take someone to help the kids eat --time.
"I drank again and I ruined it," she said . ".
While in California, Vargas said she started with wine and then a bottle of tequila.
But she got the news that ABC needed to record her voice in order to broadcast a report the next day.
Vargas said she was still drunk when a staff member arrived at eight o'clock A. M.
"I remember sitting there that day and I could read the words and I couldn't get my mouth to talk," she said . ".
Vargas said she felt sick when she listened to the tape and other recordings of her drinking.
"But I'm glad I listened because I don't want to be there anymore," she said . ".
Her boss at ABC was reminded that she was drinking again and she called her sister to say she was in trouble.
"It was the first time she called and said, 'I need help,' and I will never forget that," Aimie Vargas said . ".
"I think I knew right away, 'This is terrible.
Amy said she put everything down and flew to California to be with her sister.
Elizabeth also called a colleague at ABC who knew an actor/director in the area and was also a recovering alcoholic.
He ran over with the brothers and sisters of Waggers, comforting her two sons to get rid of drugs.
"To be honest, I thought it was over," said Amy Vargas . ".
"I thought she would lose the boys, and I thought she would lose her job. We all did.
Elizabeth Vargas said she decided to ask for help and try to stay awake.
A consultant flew her back to New York.
The first thing the counselor asked her to do was make a calendar that records all the days she was drunk and the impact on the people around her.
That's why she was forced to stop denying it, Vargas said.
Vargas told her ABC boss that she finally understood how important it was to help constantly every day.
Vargas went to a sober house where they tested her blood for alcohol and ABC News agreed to give her unpaid leave to deal with addiction and its underlying causes, there's another chance that she can stay awake.
"Thank God, they gave me a chance," Vargas said . ".
"Thank God because you know many other employers won't do that.
"She returned to work, was sober and grateful, and apologized to colleagues who had to redo their work because of drinking.
"I am also very grateful to my colleagues in the" 20/20 "office," Vargas said . ".
The most difficult thing, Vargas said, was that she forced herself to face what she had done to her children and apologized to them for the pain she had caused them.
"You can't just say 'Sorry, sorry, I hurt you' and then, you know, forget it," she said . ".
"I'm sorry, I drank.
I'm sorry I scared you.
I'm sorry I'm not by your side.
I'm sorry I fell asleep and missed your concert. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.
After their divorce, Vargas and her husband, Mark Cohen, agreed to co-monitor their son.
Cohen told 20/20 in a statement, "Elizabeth has always and will always have my support, especially in her recovery.
I did my best to protect our family during this very complex and challenging journey, which included respecting Elizabeth's privacy.
Now, I commend her for her efforts to shed light on the link between anxiety and alcohol abuse, which I think will help countless people and families.
As for our own family, we continue to be parents for our two incredible boys, and I am very grateful to us for working together to put their needs first.
Vargas is hopeful for the future.
She already knows that she has to leave if she wants to drink and she has time to meditate.
Anger is still a trigger for her wanting to drink, she says, but now she reaches out to get the phone, and if she feels that these feelings are happening, she calls someone immediately.
Most importantly, she wants her children to know that she is trying to get out of the abyss for them.
In addition to sitting down with Diane Sawyer, Elizabeth Vargas talked to Dan Harris of ABC about her struggle and her new book's "10% happy" podcast.
Listen to her full interview with Dan on iTunes, Google Play Music, and TuneIn.