Monday, August 18, 2014

Checking In

ABC News anchor Elizabeth Vargas is re-entering rehab after struggling with alcohol addiction. I first talked about Ms. Vargas's battle with addiction last November, when she checked into rehab for the first time.

Her statement about the news was pretty clear:

"While on vacation this weekend, I decided to return to a recovery center. As so many other recovering alcoholics know, overcoming the disease can be a long and incredibly difficult process. I feel I have let myself, my co-workers and most importantly my family down, and for that I am ashamed and sorry. I am committed to battling and addressing this debilitating disease and want to thank everyone who has offered their unwavering support during this trying time."

Vargas hasn't tweeted since August 11th. Her last tweet focused on Robin Williams's death. 'I am so sad for Robin -' it read ' - and his fight with addiction. My heart goes out to his wife and kids.'

More news has come out about Williams's suicide - such a tragedy. His widow released a statement saying that Williams had recently been diagnosed with the early stages of Parkinson's Disease - something he was not willing to share publicly yet. He had also been battling depression and anxiety, though he was not drinking alcohol at the time.

I wonder if Williams's passing had anything to do with Vargas's desire to check into rehab again. Obviously, she'd started drinking at some point since her first rehab stint last year, otherwise why would she feel ashamed? But Williams's death - and his openness about his struggles with addiction - might have scared her into seeking treatment again.

Of course, I'm just speculating. But his death certainly ran a chill through me, too. I imagine anyone who's dealt with alcoholism felt it. Even though, in the interest of fairness, his suicide may not have been related to alcoholic depression at all - there were obviously many other stresses in his life.

At any rate, I wish Elizabeth much luck and success with her treatment. And a quick end to the shame! I understand the shame, I do. But I wish she didn't have to feel it - and publicly declare it. I wish that none of us struggling with addiction had to feel it. Because there's nothing to be ashamed about. Unfortunately, that's what 'falling off the wagon' makes us feel in abstinence-based programs. Which is one of the reasons I avoid the whole process altogether. Total abstinence should not be the 'go-to' treatment for alcohol addiction anymore. It simply doesn't work for everyone.