Transcript for Elizabeth Vargas Talks Divorce, Recovery From Alcoholism
Welcome back everyone 20/20 co anchor Elizabeth Vargas became a headline when she bravely went public about her battle with alcoholism it now. She's opening up about what led to her addiction the devastating told that it took on her personal life and how she found the strength to overcome it and her inspiring memoir. Between brass however when please welcome. Elizabeth Vargas. Celebrate and we're so proud of you this is so brave of you to share this story you really had to go out there but. And the last and you are back on the show it was 2014. But just finished just into rehab. He returned he found out that your husband had filed for divorce hybrid rehab did that sets you back. Oh yeah. They tell you what year when you get severed your first year of sobriety not to make any big life decisions because you're. Frankly your sobriety is too fragile yeah you're still learning to get through life without that cry cheering for me I treat alcohol because of a lifelong battle with anxiety. I have panic attacks as a kid like throughout my childhood and kept it it's a secret you know that's part wipe at this book is that we'll start talking about anxiety and depression and other things that causes people to self medicate. I treat normally for 25 years and then sort of fell off a clef about eight years ago. I got home from rehab and and when I came to see US still hadn't even learned everything that was going on while I was way getting Weller trying to get Alan. It really threw me for a live it was deeply deeply painful obviously was the end of my marriage and it was hard hard and obviously I didn't stay sober threat which is sadly not an unusual event. I think one of the things that they also wanted people to know now it people who are trying to gets over it even more partly for people around them. Who might be frustrated by somebody's inability to stop and stay stopped and is the average person according to the and I AAB lapses three to seven times of where they can hibernian it is if it it's an addiction folks this is like that's Natalie Allen and by the way if it were that easy to quit and we wouldn't have a problem we wouldn't have thirty million people last year in America dealing with alcoholism it seeks it's difficult to do it in for the rest of your life you know I have to be I have to say I mean I don't finding and it -- difference I was everything added I did a FaceBook lite thing last time yesterday with doctor mark at ABC answering questions about anxiety in alcoholism and a link between the two and the fact that it is a disease. And you know he was asking you can we were at the Emmys last week is that you might toasted you with my drink and one of the questions we gotta face the quizzes or is it hard for you to go out. Is it for me. It isn't for me at all in fact I feel badly when I know people are drinking because of do you feel that like typhoid Mary like you're not a fight he added dinner we can't happen. Donna but Elizabeth nearly to have a drink if she comes. And I for me that isn't a problem. But for other people might be and it's incumbent on you to do what you need to do to it to protect yourself and take care of yourself. Do think there's a genetic disorder genetic can. Opponents yeah oh absolutely we noses genetically risk if you have eight if parents in a parent has an alcoholic give a 50% chance according to doctors. A being an alcoholic yourself. It doesn't mean you will become an alcoholic it just meant simply means that for my son's I'll make sure they know everything they watched. The special I did with Diane. With me. And I'll have them read the book when they are old enough to two to do so but they know everything that's in the book that there isn't anything in there are I have it on your family did your parents your grand uncle. But not my parents. But it is it doesn't mean you definitely will be coming out called it just means you -- more at risk. To be honest for me I think the biggest risks are for me at like anxiety. 60%. Of women who are alcoholics are anxious 60%. Filling 35% yeah. You see in late night show yeah yeah yeah no no what it. Well big your. A procedure both before and and you Chancery to them live workflow you. Oregon but I had to say I set out the cover into the reading sorry I was only. Polonium because it hurt him but I actually got home and I started reading your book and I really related to because it in my own family and the head you know I've dealt with that. People hiding alcohol Murray. People taking breath continued you know you do what you can institute to hide it. What's your advice to people who may be unwilling or an able to get help. Well gosh you can't make somebody do something they don't want it I mean that's the painful reality is he can't force someone to quit drinking. Some you have to the alcoholic addict has to get to a point where they want that more. That they're willing to endure the painful recovery process of learning how to live life without that crash. For the people around them. Which I think is it even a more important question because they're often so hurt by the alcoholic. I would say it was an every case is different but the one thing you should not do is shame the person. A person who's drinking or doing are taking drugs objectively. Feels so much change already I guarantee you that every single addict I've met feels so much aim at what about what they know they're doing. That he if you just pile more shame on you're gonna drive them deeper into the addiction because you'll do anything not to feel that shame. The best thing that for me was when my brother my sister my mom and my dad. Where the people who saved me. You if they stood there and they said I love you. You've gotta gotta get help. I love you I won't be there I'm gonna come for family weekend I'm gonna support you I'm gonna call you I'm gonna send you card on Christmas. You know the things that those four people doing those things for me is what saved my life. Elizabeth one question I have suffered from anxiety and depression and talked about it on the show what is something issues that you drink. Reg is socially for 25 years and and eloped we'll look music to people hole in the early me that are a little nervous flip. Where did it change your how you know I I get that question a lot because they didn't pay it it wasn't like the first time I drank I was black out drunk and off to the races. You know if you feel like it's starting to manage your life. As opposed to you managing yet if you're starting to think OK I get to go home not get through wine I like it to my took I'd I'd I'd be sure at a bus went for it get to that. Party or why isn't that we are coming here passenger you know I that we felt like last. Or you're waking up in the Coca. Cook them well that's up for joy. Rihanna Joyce except I wanted to know that's out of it allegedly is that you you're doing that then then it's a problem if you're waking up and feeling like acting too much last night or your feeling the physical effects of it. And and you can't cut back in you say that you yourself in the morning I'm not gonna do that tonight and then you find yourself doing at. That's it danger sign OK just get it in control then because. And he's still a shot at Elizabeth I know you're such a private person you really preachers are out there and we were talking last week they how corn and social media has people that have connected with the I know I what are Biggio one of our viewers that Sharon had faced at Sharon Columbus had because of her crate courageous candid and Ron interview with Diane Sawyer about her struggles with alcoholism. I attended my first twelve step program I feel like I bet reborn I will continue to choose sobriety one day at a time. Time. In the front row and Sharon want and how do you know. Have you inspired. Sad to talk to when I saw your interview. With Diane Sawyer. I felt like you were talking directly to me and I related to your story. And I've been an anxious person I was and anxious kid cut consummate warrior. And this past year. I had some really difficult things happened three months in a row. And that's where I fell off the cliff. And when you spoke so eloquently about your disease. And especially when you've shared. That you nearly died from alcohol poisoning the I had a moment and I believe god spoke to me is that. Starent. If you don't change things this could be you and maybe you won't be saved cheering people up here and I might should have some private moments that Elizabeth it's good US about it. Between rats and we'll be right back at him.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.