A source close to the 54-year-old talk show host tells ET that Williams' announcement on Tuesday's episode of her show came because of the importance of the issue.
"Wendy has been brave enough to make herself the face of addiction. It’s a disease and a very real and constant fight. It’s been extremely difficult to put herself out there and be vulnerable (as this is such a private struggle), but it’s too important a topic to ignore," the source says. "She is known for keeping it real, and felt the need to keep it real for her fans."
"Wendy Williams knew that the Daily Mail story was breaking and she wanted to be honest with the viewers," the source adds of a story published by the British outlet on Tuesday that claims Williams' sober house is in Queens, New York. "She wanted it to be her story to tell."
During Tuesday's episode, Williams told her viewers that, "for some time now and even today and beyond I have been living in a sober house."
"So, this is my autobiographical story, and I'm living it. I'm telling you this," she said through tears. "After I go to the Pilates, I go to several meetings all around town in the tri-state area. And I see my brothers and sisters, caught up in their addiction and looking for help. They don't know I'm Wendy. They don't care I'm Wendy. There's no autographs. There is no nothing. It's the brothers and sisters caught up in the struggle."
"... After I finished my appointments, seeing my brothers and sisters, breaking bread, I am driven by my 24-hour sober coach back to the home that I live in, here in the tri-state with a bunch of smelly boys who have become my family," she continued of the home, which has a lights-out policy beginning at 10 p.m. "They hog the TV and watch soccer. We talk and read and talk and read and then I get bored with them."
Williams called the whole experience "really interesting" and noted that only her husband and son knew her living situation. "Not my parents, nobody. Nobody knew," she said. "Because I look so glamorous out here."
She ended her speech by encouraging people to call The Hunter Foundation 24-hour helpline -- 888-5HUNTER -- if they need assistance, and revealing that they've already helped to place 56 people in recovery centers.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, help is available.
Williams' announcement came just weeks after she returned to her talk show, after taking an extended break in early 2019 to manage complications from Graves' disease and a shoulder fracture.
"I am happy to tell you I am doing swell," Williams said during her first show back earlier this month. "I'm at home and taking my thyroid meds and meditating and believe me, I am going to the gym seven days a week for two hours a day. Mother has not gained a pound!"
"I would report to work on time and I walked in and all of my co-workers, and including my bosses, would know but instead of firing me, you see, I would grab my headphones and arrogantly walk into the studio and dare them to fire me because I was making ratings," she said at the time. “... It’s a miracle I was able to stop.”