Elizabeth Vargas Returns to TV After Rehab Stint
01/24/2014 AT 08:35 AM EST
The 20/20 co-anchor returned to TV Friday morning, her first appearance since seeking treatment for alcohol abuse in November.
In a taped sit-down with George Stephanopoulos that aired on Good Morning America, Vargas opened up about her dark struggles with her disease and chronicled her journey back to recovery.
"I am an alcoholic. It took me a long time to admit that to myself. I took me a long time to admit that to my family. But I am," Vargas, 51, said.
"The amount of energy I expended keeping that secret and keeping this problem hidden from view was exhausting," she explained, adding: "You become so isolated with the secret, so lonely because you can't tell anyone what's happening."
Vargas said she recalled having panic attacks as a kid, which eventually morphed into anxieties that "slowly escalated."
"Wine was my go-to drink," she said of her chosen salve. "A lot of wine ... At night, it was a ritual."
Red flags began to go up, she says, when, at one point, her son called her nightly glass of wine "Mommy's juice."
Now, Vargas says she's facing her condition head-on – "in the end, it's a fact of my life" – and finding the mental and emotional tools to help her along the way.
"It's a psychic change, it's learning to accept that I'm human, that there's nothing wrong with feeling anxiety."
On Nov. 6, Vargas revealed that she was in rehab, saying in a statement: "Like so many people, I am dealing with addiction. I realized I was becoming increasingly dependent on alcohol. And feel fortunate to have recognized it for the problem it was becoming."
She left rehab two weeks later, Tweeting: "I am home, and so grateful for all your support and well wishes. I am so much better and taking it one day at a time. :)"