Elizabeth Vargas, 51, has left rehab after treatment for alcohol abuse. The co-anchor for the ABC news series “20/20” with David Muir had entered rehab in October, but it wasn’t until earlier this month, after viewers began noticing her absence from the ABC network, that Vargas announced she was in treatment for alcohol abuse.
On Nov. 19, after leaving rehab, Vargas tweeted, “Hello everyone! 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. :)”
The ABC network and Vargas’s coworkers have expressed their support of Vargas during this time. Vargas will be welcomed back to ABC when she is ready.
Vargas, an award-winning anchor and correspondent, has been recognized for her “brave” reportage of the 1998 death of Matthew Shepard, who was murdered for being gay, and the Laci Peterson case, which attracted attention to the disappearances of several women in Northern California.
What is alcohol abuse, and how is it different from alcoholism?
In the U.S., about 18 million people suffer from alcohol abuse or alcoholism.
Alcohol abuse is like the cousin to alcoholism. Alcohol abuse is not necessarily an addiction but it does affect many areas of life. Physical dependency on alcohol does not result but it does require treatment, which is usually effective. This is the case with Vargas.
Alcoholism, on the other hand, is chronic and lifelong. It consumes every aspect of the alcoholic’s life, and most of the time is spent drinking or recovering from hangovers or illness as a result of heavy drinking. Daily responsibilities fall by the wayside in the alcoholic’s life.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA):
“…more than 70 percent of people who develop alcohol dependence have a single episode that lasts on average 3 or 4 years. Data from the same survey also show that many people who seek formal treatment are able to remain alcohol free, and many others recover without formal treatment.”
How do I know if I have a drinking problem?
It is simple to determine alcohol dependence. If you exhibit any signs below, it is advisable to consult your doctor.
- Craving alcohol. If you find yourself craving alcohol and can’t stop thinking about it, this is a sign.
- Drinking too much and being unable to stop. One drink becomes two, then it becomes three, and then loss of control results. You can’t stop drinking once you start.
- Physical dependence is another sign. If you suffer any withdrawal symptoms such as nausea or headaches, your body is getting used to having alcohol.
- Your tolerance of alcohol increases. If you have just one drink, it’s not enough to get the full effect, and your body wants more so you drink more. This is another huge sign of dependence.
Furthermore, you are at risk of alcohol abuse or alcoholism if you have a family history of such.
By Juana Poareo