Written by: B. Lenz
ABC News Anchor and 20/20 host Elizabeth Vargus has stepped away from the podium and checked into rehab, according to online sources. She has admitted to having a problem with alcohol and has joined the long list of public personalities who have struggled with an addiction problem.
â€œI realized I was becoming increasingly dependent on alcohol,” she said in a Huffington Post article, â€œand feel fortunate to have recognized it for the problem it was becoming. I am in treatment and am so thankful for the love and support of my family, friends and colleagues at ABC News. Like so many others, I will deal with this challenge one day at a time. If coming forward today gives one other person the courage to seek help, Iâ€™m grateful.â€
Vargus, 51, was also briefly co-host of World News Tonight with Bob Woodruff after Peter Jennings died, but when Woodruff was injured in an Iraq explosion while on assignment, the partnership was ended. Her career with network news began in 1993 on NBC, then afterward ABC. The network is supportive of her recovery, and ABC news spokesman Jeffrey Schneider said in an Associated Press article, â€œElizabeth is a member of our family and we will support her in every way we can.â€
Vargus has two children and is married to singer/songwriter Marc Cohn. She entered rehab voluntarily a couple of weeks ago and is expected to be back on 20/20 in a couple more weeks.
She is not the only news anchor to own her alcoholism and address her problem. Former Fox News Anchor Laurie Dhue went the same route. While her co-workers were aware of her alcohol problem, she was reluctant to discuss it, for fear of reprisal, stigmatism, and the negative affect it may have created in her professional life. But as her alcoholism progressed, she reached a point where she had to do something, so she entered treatment. She may not have chosen to out herself publicly, but at a private prayer breakfast hosted by Fox columnist, Cal Thomas, she revealed how terrified and lonely she felt at the height of her addiction when she would get inebriated several times a week. She was unaware that there was a journalist at the gathering until she found her private matters in print.
â€˜Thereâ€™s still such a stigma attached to alcoholism in this country,â€ Dhue recounted in the article. â€œIt shouldn’t be a dirty little secret, but it’s still a closeted issue.
‘So that’s why I held off on telling people. And I also thought, â€œI’m never going to be able to get a job again. If people know I’m a recovering alcoholic, that may hurt meâ€.â€™
Once her secret was out, though, she began to open up in the hopes of helping others to push past the fear of scrutiny and embrace the recovery she credits for saving her life. Alcoholics helping other alcoholics seems to be a hallmark value in recovery, no matter what oneâ€™s livelihood or status is.
So maybe Vargus is that person. It takes courage and integrity to fight an addiction, especially for those in the public eye. She echoes Dhueâ€™s commitment to doing the right thing by getting help – right now, for herself, but later, who knowsâ€¦