Cheryl Burke Discusses Being Sober For Two Years, How Sobriety Helped Her Bond With AJ McLean

Cheryl Burke attends the "Dancing With The Stars" Season 28 show at CBS Television City
Allen Berezovsky / Getty Images

Dancing with the Stars pro Cheryl Burke opened up about her sobriety this week, Us Weekly reported. She said being paired with AJ McLean, who has also struggled with alcoholism, helped the two bond.

Burke said she made the decision to give up drinking two years ago. Specifically, she said during her engagement party, following saying “yes” to Matthew Lawrence, she just decided she’d had enough.

“We were just like — or that I was like, he didn’t even know — I was just like, I was done,” she said.

She didn’t go to rehab or start attending meetings for a 12-step program. Rather, she simply quit on her own.

Part of what motivated her to stay sober was her own family’s history with alcoholism.

“My father passed away — and then my dad was an alcoholic — so either I was gonna crash and burn and check myself into rehab or I was gonna just quit cold turkey. That’s just my personality. It’s either black or white,” she said.

She hasn’t had a drink since then, she said on the LadyGang podcast, a preview of which Us Weekly made available.

Another person who struggled with alcoholism has since entered Burke’s life: her Season 29 dance partner, Backstreet Boy AJ McLean.

backstreet boy aj mclean
  Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

In fact, Burke said she actually wanted McLean to be her dance partner because of their shared battles.

“I really wanted AJ, because I’m like, for him to be maybe partnered with someone who is just, like, still fresh in the scene [or] likes to go out, I was a little worried just as a friend in a way,” she said.

In fact, the two have bonded so strongly that they teamed up for their own podcast, Pretty Messed Up.

Back in August, McLean told his Instagram followers that, in addition to being sober for nine months, he started a strict diet that has forced him to give up several other things, including gluten, sugar, and soda. He’s doing it, he said, to get in the best shape of his life, mentally, physically, and emotionally.

He also teased at the time that there was “something else” coming up, but didn’t specify what it was.

So far on this season of DWTS, Burke and McLean have performed admirably. In Week 1, their performance to “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd earned high scores, while their Week 2 follow-up, danced to “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” by Dean Martin, kept them safe from elimination.