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Cheryl Burke reflects on life pre-sobriety and confesses she used to drink 'seven days a week'

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Dancing With The Stars pro Cheryl Burke got very candid about life before she got sober from alcohol for good three years ago. 

The 37-year-old dancer confessed to being a ‘functioning drunk’ who would consume alcohol ‘seven days a week.’ 

‘I am definitely an alcoholic and addict, yes. One hundred percent,’ she confessed during an October 19 conversation on Elizabeth Vargas’ Heart of the Matter podcast. 

In recovery: The 37-year-old Dancing With The Stars pro got sober three years ago but said before that time she was a 'functioning drunk' who would consume alcohol 'seven days a week'; pictured in May

In recovery: The 37-year-old Dancing With The Stars pro got sober three years ago but said before that time she was a ‘functioning drunk’ who would consume alcohol ‘seven days a week’; pictured in May 

‘I was a ballroom-by-day type girl and then party- or club-goer at night — for 10 years in a row,’ Burke confessed later adding: ‘I was a functioning drunk for sure.’ 

She moved to Los Angeles at age 21 and started to party.

And she approached drinking with an ‘all or nothing’ mentality. 

Cheryl said her tolerance for alcohol got so high that ‘nothing got me drunk,’ and added that a lot of her drinking came from a place of hurt as she was ‘very mean’ to herself. 

‘I was drinking because I was numbing — and we all know that that’s a scary place. It was survival mode constantly, seven days a week for me.’ 

Functioning drunk: 'I was a ballroom-by-day type girl and then party- or club-goer at night — for 10 years in a row,' Burke confessed later adding: 'I was a functioning drunk for sure'; pictured 2016

Functioning drunk: ‘I was a ballroom-by-day type girl and then party- or club-goer at night — for 10 years in a row,’ Burke confessed later adding: ‘I was a functioning drunk for sure’; pictured 2016

Hurting: Cheryl said her tolerance for alcohol got so high that 'nothing got me drunk,' and added that a lot of her drinking came from a place of hurt as she was 'very mean' to herself; pictured 2016

Hurting: Cheryl said her tolerance for alcohol got so high that ‘nothing got me drunk,’ and added that a lot of her drinking came from a place of hurt as she was ‘very mean’ to herself; pictured 2016

Hungover: In a 2015 Instagram post on Christmas she confessed to being '#hungoveraf'

Hungover: In a 2015 Instagram post on Christmas she confessed to being ‘#hungoveraf’

Though she had also tried to give herself boundaries such as no alcohol before 5PM or not drinking alone she admitted to having a hard time sticking to those guidelines. 

‘I felt disgusting. There was nothing there,’ she told Vargas, adding: ‘I had no identity,’ and a general ‘feeling of just emptiness, of feeling there’s no purpose.’ 

She said a number of things contributed to her decision to get sober in July 2018, including her late father’s alcoholism and getting allergic reactions to alcohol. 

When Cheryl took a shot of whiskey at her engagement party in 2018 and immediately broke out in hives she ‘quit that night.’ 

That night: When Cheryl took a shot of whiskey at her engagement party in 2018 and immediately broke out in hives she 'quit that night'; pictured with husband Matthew Lawrence July 2018

That night: When Cheryl took a shot of whiskey at her engagement party in 2018 and immediately broke out in hives she ‘quit that night’; pictured with husband Matthew Lawrence July 2018

Escape: Sharing a Drugfree.org post to her Instagram Wednesday she wrote that drinking was an 'escape' from her reality

Escape: Sharing a Drugfree.org post to her Instagram Wednesday she wrote that drinking was an ‘escape’ from her reality 

‘Obviously subconsciously something … it was my body rejecting all this poison fter drowning with it for so many years,’ she said.   

In a June 2021 podcast chat with former Backstreet Boy AJ McLean (who’s 20 years sober) she told her then DWTS partner that she had felt like drinking ‘a lot lately.’

She also shared that speaking about her struggles with alcohol on air is an accountability tool. ‘I have to say it, otherwise I will drink.’

In 2010 on her Pretty Messed Up podcast she reflected on one incident when drinking began to impact her career. 

‘I wasn’t drunk, I wasn’t hungover, but it was still when I was drinking. I remember messing up on my choreography. It was this crazy voice in my head saying, “Go the other way, go the other way.” I butchered my routine when I’m supposed to be there for the celebrity,’ she said of a Season 10 DWTS incident. 

Clean and sober: Reflecting on an incident on Season 10 of DWTS, she said 'I butchered my routine when I'm supposed to be there for the celebrity,' and the 'traumatic' incident of messing up on air caused her to actually 'drink way more'; pictured with current DWTS partner Cody Rigsby

Clean and sober: Reflecting on an incident on Season 10 of DWTS, she said ‘I butchered my routine when I’m supposed to be there for the celebrity,’ and the ‘traumatic’ incident of messing up on air caused her to actually ‘drink way more’; pictured with current DWTS partner Cody Rigsby 

She called it traumatic at the time and said that it actually caused her to drink ‘way more.’ 

‘I was self-sabotaging and from then on, I felt like my career plummeted down. I would have to drink before I saw anybody. I would never start [drinking] with everybody — I would start by myself at home.’ 

But now that she’s surpassed three years of sobriety she told Vargas, that though that she used to view sobriety as a weakness she now realizes how ‘courageous,’ it is.  

‘I had this saying: ‘I don’t trust people that are sober. There’s obviously some demons that they’re living. I was so ignorant to the fact that everything that I thought was weak is actually the most courageous thing you can possibly do.’

Thriving: 'I was so ignorant to the fact that everything that I thought was weak is actually the most courageous thing you can possibly do,' she told Vargas of getting sober three years ago; pictured October 7

Thriving: ‘I was so ignorant to the fact that everything that I thought was weak is actually the most courageous thing you can possibly do,’ she told Vargas of getting sober three years ago; pictured October 7 

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