"20/20" anchor Elizabeth Vargas admitted to fighting an "exhausting" battle with alcohol, during a taping of the show on Thursday, which ran Friday according to TheWrap.

"I am. I am an alcoholic," Vargas told "GMA" co-anchor George Stephanopoulos. "It took me a long time to admit that to myself. It took me a long time to admit it to my family, but I am."

Vargas, who went to rehab last fall, returned to the air Friday. She said she attends Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and has a sponsor.

The journalist said she had done "20/20" specials on drinking but couldn't herself acknowledge she had a problem, which changed when she showed up for a "20/20" shoot one day and realized she was "in no shape to do that interview."

Elizabeth Vargas, left, and Bob Woodruff pose for a photograph in ABC’s "World News Tonight" studio, Monday, Dec. 5, 2005, in New York.
Elizabeth Vargas, left, and Bob Woodruff pose for a photograph in ABC's "World News Tonight" studio, Monday, Dec. 5, 2005, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

She also resisted her husband, Marc Cohn, telling her, "'You have a problem. You're an alcoholic.'"

"It made me really angry, really angry," she said. "But he was right."

Vargas said she drank mostly wine, which one of her kids called "mommy's juice."

She said she attempted limiting her intake. "I started thinking, 'Well, you know, I'll only drink, you know, on weekends," she said, laughing. "I'll only drink, you know, two glasses of wine a night. I won't drink on nights before I have to get up and do 'Good Morning America.' But those deals never work."

One factor in the 51-year-old's alcoholism was panic attacks, which she said she has experienced since she was a child. They began when her father was serving in Vietnam, and her mother would leave to go to work.


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"I dealt with that anxiety, and with the stress that the anxiety brought by starting to drink. And it slowly escalated and got worse and worse," she said.

She said it took her a long time to realize she had a problem.

"I mean, denial is huge for any alcoholic, especially for a functioning alcoholic, because I, you know, I'm not living under a bridge. I haven't been arrested," she said.

She said she has replaced alcohol by calling a friend, meditating or praying.

"There's been a real spiritual component for me in all of this," she said. "Reach out to somebody who can talk you through that rotten day."

Contact Tony Hicks at Facebook.com/BayAreaNewsGroup.TonyHicks or Twitter.com/insertfoot.