Award-Winning Journalist Elizabeth Vargas Reveals That Recovery From Addiction Is a Challenge in Isolation

While isolation due to the pandemic ebbs away at the mental health of a large chunk of the population, those in recovery from addiction face an additional set of challenges.

Elizabeth Vargas arrives for Apples The Morning Show global premiere
Elizabeth Vargas arrives for Apples The Morning Show global premiere |ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Award-winning journalist and Heart of the Matter podcast host Elizabeth Vargas shared with Showbiz Cheat Sheet how connection is an essential component to recovery.

“[Connection is] a key component in any time when you’re suffering from either mental health issues like anxiety or depression or if you are struggling with addiction is to connect with other people,” she said.

Vargas has been very public with her journey as a recovering alcoholic. “I can tell you that I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alone or so isolated in my entire life is when I was going through my darkest days of my addiction to alcohol,” she shared.

The pandemic adds additional challenges, Elizabeth Vargas says

Social distancing isn’t ideal for anyone in recovery. “It’s really, really hard for people to find that connection,” Vargas said.

“And it’s really hard for people who are struggling to get sober,” she continued. “Or who just brand new, newly sober and don’t have those networks well established that they can reach out to people. So it’s incredibly important.”

Elizabeth Vargas speaks on stage during the Child Mind Institute's 2019 Change Maker Awards
Elizabeth Vargas speaks on stage during the Child Mind Institute’s 2019 Change Maker Awards | Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Child Mind Institute

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“When I was struggling with my anxiety and my alcohol addiction, I felt really alone, very singular,” she recalled. “Like I was the only person going through it. I felt an enormous amount of shame around what I was doing to myself and my inability to stop.”

She said one way she found comfort was to realize she truly wasn’t alone. “To hear other people talk about their story with addiction in a deeply personal way. I think will do great things.”

Elizabeth Vargas has a new podcast to help people connect

Vargas says keeping the discussion open is one of the best pathways to recovery. “Publicly talking very honestly and openly about what it’s like is doing an incredible service,” she said. “The biggest impediment right now to getting treatment and finding recovery from addiction is the shame and the stigma. It still exists to an enormous degree around this whole disease of addiction.”

That’s why Vargas is so excited about Heart of the Matter. “We’re hoping that this podcast helps people,” she said. “I would have loved to have heard other people’s stories.” She added, “We hope to make people feel less alone and less isolated.”

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Her first guest is NBA player Chris Herren, who tells a raw story of addiction and recovery. “The reason we picked him is because he’s an amazing public speaker about his whole addiction, which was a deeply harrowing story,” she said.

“He fell into the grips of addiction because he suffered from severe anxiety as an adolescent,” she shared. “And yet it looked to the outside world like the boy who had it all.”

Herren gets extremely real and open telling his story on the podcast, which can help others connect and feel less alone. “[E]verybody in every walk of life, no matter how much they might look like they have it all, can still be struggling,” she said.

Vargas joins the national nonprofit Partnership to End Addiction‘s “Start with Connection” campaign. In addition to Vargas’ podcast, the campaign also features music from The Lumineers.