Cheryl Burke, three years sober: ‘I’ve been thinking a lot about drinking again’

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I know Cheryl Burke as a former DWTS professional. I was looking through our archives on her and we haven’t talked about her in about three years, which is just about the length of time she’s been sober. She wasn’t particularly scandalous before that and always came across as a decent person. Cheryl, 37, has been married to actor Matthew Lawrence, 41, since 2019. Matthew is Joey Lawrence’s brother and they met when Joey was on DWTS. Cheryl has a podcast called Pretty Messed Up and a YouTube channel where she vlogs and talks about her life. In a recent video she said that she’s been thinking about drinking again and wanted to tell on herself to hold herself accountable. There’s a history of alcoholism in her family and she doesn’t want to risk it or go back to that life. She hit on a lot of points that rang true to me and I wanted to talk about it. I’m going to use People’s writeup of some of her quotes and the video is below:

Cheryl Burke… said in a YouTube video Tuesday that though she’s been sober for nearly three years, she has been struggling recently with thoughts of drinking again.

“I’m here to confess that lately staying sober has been a little bit of a challenge for me. And recently I’ve been thinking a lot, I have to admit, about drinking again,” she admitted. “So, I decided to hold myself accountable by confessing my anxious feelings.”

She added that she never went through a rehabilitation program when she first decided to become sober, saying: “I basically quit cold turkey, but to say I’ve never looked back would be a lie.”

Recently, there have been multiple “triggers” in her life that have made it harder for her to stay sober, including “something bothering me that I don’t necessarily want to feel or face,” Burke said.

She revealed that she struggled with her sobriety during a vacation in Hawaii with her husband, Matthew Lawrence.

“Us being in Hawaii, just that carefree feeling of being under the sun, my husband may have had a glass of champagne, my senses have come back even stronger,” she said. “So, the smell of it I missed.”

She added that in the past “when I [had] any feelings of doubt, betrayal, uncertainty, those for me [were] red flags…My go-to is booze, is anything that numbs and gets me out of my head.”

“There’s so much chaos going on in my life right now. In the past, everyone always used to say, ‘How do you do it all?’ But I did it all because I was numbing through it all. Now, for the first time, through all the chaos, I’m actually having to feel it and be uncomfortable while I’m feeling it.”

[From People]

I know a lot of people will say she needs to get in a program, but in the video she said she has a therapist she’s seen 2-3 times a week for the last ten years. She said that she’s an introvert and finds the idea of joining a 12 step program overwhelming for that reason. She’s thinking about it and would like to be around more sober people. I think that people need to find what works for them to stay sober. For some it’s AA, for others it’s smart recovery, therapy or a supportive group of friends. Cheryl is in therapy and she’s telling on herself and that’s admirable.

This week I had my five year sobriety anniversary. I don’t always remember the date, but my mom reminded me it was coming up. Overall it doesn’t occur to me to drink that much, but I do find certain things triggering like Cheryl mentioned. I don’t really struggle with the decision to not drink anymore because I was sober for two years in my late 20s and then I drank again and saw where it got me. Also it’s just weird how our society normalizes heavy drinking. Sometimes I see people drinking on television or I see ads for alcohol in my Twitter feed and I have to remind myself how horrible it was. It also helps to be around people who drink but who aren’t alcoholics. Maybe that sounds counter intuitive but when I see people have one or two drinks over the course of an entire night it reminds me that I could never do that.

Here’s that video. I like how open and honest she is but on a superficial level the music is somewhat annoying.

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32 Responses to “Cheryl Burke, three years sober: ‘I’ve been thinking a lot about drinking again’”

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  1. GraceB says:

    I’ve always had an odd relationship with alcohol, as the child of two alcoholic parents. I’m at the point where now I don’t drink at all. It just isn’t worth it. It is hard though because society is constantly pushing it on us, telling us it’s not just ok but actually a great thing to do. Friends and family think I’m going too far by abstaining or that I’m boring. I just have to do what’s right for me, and the benefits of drinking are far outweighed by the negatives.

    • JJ says:

      Same and same. The whole idea of it just carries a weight on you that other people don’t have, I think. I’ve gone many years not drinking at all and most people seem to be really judgy. But when you have an alcoholic parent you can look at a drink and just see pain. Or feel like it’s a genetic time bomb.

    • JJ says:

      Same and same. The whole idea of it just carries a weight on you that other people don’t have, I think. I’ve gone many years not drinking at all and most people seem to be really judgy. But when you have an alcoholic parent you can look at a drink and just see pain. Or feel like it’s a genetic time bomb.

  2. Margaret says:

    Thanks for frequently posting about alcoholism and sobriety. I really relate to it and though I haven’t quit drinking totally it has helped me develop a healthier relationship to alcohol.

    AND Matthew Lawrence is definitely the cuter Lawrence.

  3. Robyn says:

    I highly recommend Quit Like A Woman by Holly Whitaker if you are questioning or wanting change your relationship with alcohol.

  4. detritus says:

    Congratulations on five years, CB!

    I’ve never seen addiction coverage on a non science journal cover addiction so well and with such empathy.

    Thank you again for sharing yourself and your thoughts on this mental health issue.

  5. Murphy says:

    As a fellow sober person I appreciate her putting this out there.

  6. Miss b says:


  7. tealily says:

    I really relate to your coverage too. I am alcoholic-adjacent on a couple fronts and have quit for periods on and off myself. These days I drink a little, but barely at all. It’s not worth the calories or the (literal and figurative) headache to me.

  8. Ellie says:

    Wow, I really appreciate her being honest about the thoughts she’s having. I went back out during COVID, and my drinking was the worst it had ever been in my life. I’m back on day 3 right now. I’m also very shy and introverted, but going to AA meetings just to be around more sober people has been a huge help to me in addition to therapy and online support groups. Not gonna lie, it really messed with my head when Demi Lovato referred to themselves as sober despite drinking and admitting to having alcohol addiction in the past. I know recovery looks different for everyone, but I do think it’s important to acknowledge the impact that mentality can have on other addicts. Anyway, I wish the best of luck to anyone struggling with addiction, it’s a beast.

    • Lauren the Second says:

      Lots of support for you, Ellie. <3

    • Sadezilla says:

      Sending good thoughts to you, Ellie. You can do it! I hope you are finding support where needed.

      I personally stopped drinking three and a half years ago tomorrow, but I still struggle with compulsive behavior. Right now I’m trying to curb my compulsive eating habits. I struggle with food more than I did when I stopped drinking. I was able to reconcile not being able to drink but junk food is everywhere and it’s been very hard for me to stop.

      Happy five year anniversary, CB! I also appreciate the sobriety articles. Hearing personal stories is always helpful for me.

      • Ellie says:

        Thank you, Sadezilla! I appreciate that. Sending good thoughts to you, and everyone here in recovery. Congratulations on the anniversary and to you too CB! I agree, sobriety articles and stories are really very helpful.

  9. Lena says:

    She mentioned her husband had some champagne on vacation and she missed it. Maybe an unpopular idea, but I don’t think you should drink around alcoholics. Maybe it helps you, but I think it would be triggering the way smelling cigarette smoke is to smokers.

    • tealily says:

      Who knows though. Maybe she was encouraging him to without realizing the affect it would have on her. We should cut him some slack.

    • Amando says:

      There will always be triggers. She has to learn how to cope without drinking. That has nothing to do with her husband having a glass of wine. He is entitled to do so.

      I am a former cigarette smoker and it would be impossible to avoid another smoker every day. The strength has to come from within.

  10. girl_ninja says:

    I can’t believe folks are traveling all over right now. I get wanting a vacation from what we’ve been through in 2020, what we’re STILL going through but…

    • Anne Call says:

      I know at least 3 or 4 couples who went to Hawaii in April and May from Silicon Valley area. I’m not getting on a plane for awhile and back wearing masks inside everywhere. Side note, Cheryl Burke went through k-12 in Bay Area with my older son. I remember her from hot food day at their middle school (PTA mom represent) and she was a bit of a wild child in those days. Her mom was a ballroom dancer and I think she took it up in high school. Beautiful girl and women.

  11. missbliss says:

    I love this discussion. Recovering addict here. Nearly two years and currently relapsing briefly. There were a lot of confounding factors. Life adjacent impacts of using are awful but the escape is tantalizing. I’ve tried a lot to quit over the years and although I’m not perfect I realised a big part of my addiction was the needing to get out of my head. With meditation/mindfulness I practiced sitting in my hed with those feelings and it was totally transformative. Desensitising myself I guess. I would highly recommend to anyone dealing withthis. Addiction is such a serious common place problem discussions like these are invaluable. This is why I love reading this site.

    • Sadezilla says:

      Good luck to you, missbliss. Thanks for the perspective on sitting with your feelings. I haven’t been able to execute that yet instead of reaching for the processed snacks immediately. I know intellectually that mindless eating won’t help, but a lot of times I don’t feel I have the energy to resist. I will keep trying. Wishing you the best in your recovery journey.

  12. samipup says:

    Congratulations CB! Me too, I will be celebrating a sobriety milestone. I love not drinking alcohol. I love my life now. It was hell on earth to get to the point in time to get sober. I had to be locked up, locked away. I hated, hated being a drunk, but I could not stop without friends and their understanding kindness to literally bring me to that point.

  13. Psudohnihm says:

    I’m an adult child of an alcoholic and I have such an unhealthy relationship with it. I have legit anxiety when I’m around anyone who is drinking.

    I get upset when I see all these “I’m a wine mom” t shirts and it “it’s Wine o-clock” etc. I know what I went through as a child and the way society treats parental drinking is disturbing. People joke that being drunk is the only way they can parent and it’s very triggering and upsetting to me.

    It’s also to the point that if I have to go somewhere where alcohol will be; wedding, crawfish boil etc. I decline the offer just because I can’t be around drunks anymore.

    Is anyone else like this?

    • Emily H says:

      Yes, I really do not like being around drunk people. My husband is really struggling to be sober and has been in in-patient treatment twice in the 18 months we have been married. It is incredibly tough. Seeing him struggle has really caused me to look at myself (also with the help of Al Anon) and to focus on cleaning up my side of the street. I love podcasts like The Recovery Show, my Al Anon readings, and going to my therapist to dig deep into my own self worth and examine why I struggle with relationships, choosing healthy men and setting boundaries.

      I would say I was a bit of a “wine Mom” for a few years, and have really stepped back and seen the goodness and peace in going home at night after work and not having a couple of glasses of wine to “relax.” It truly doesn’t make you relaxed in the long run and it creates issues sleeping well and anxiety once you get a little older. In a strange way, I am grateful to be around recovery and to have learned this lesson at this point in life. It is a gift.

      Back to being around drunks – we have a place in the mountains that we escape the city heat to on the weekends. There is a cool old store with BBQ, live music, and just a fun vibe. Lately, we go and don’t drink or I might have a glass of wine and I really, really notice drunk people and their behavior. Honestly, I just don’t like it. To think I didn’t notice before?!

      Anyway, love that Cheryl is being honest about her struggle because it really does help others to understand that you are not alone. Alcohol is a struggle on some level for SO many people. And congrats to five years – SO AMAZING!!!! 🙂

      • Psudohnihm says:

        Thanks for responding.
        I wonder if the common denominator is loving someone who is an alcoholic. My mom is my alcoholic and while she goes through bouts of sobriety it’s always the cloud hanging over our heads. Decades of negative experiences being around a drunk will do that to you.

        also find it incredibly awkward when, say, fellow school mom I don’t really know wants to get to know me better and they immediately say “oh you could come over, the kids can play, we could have some wine!” And then I have to gently tell them I would love to hang out but I don’t drink. Then all of a sudden the mood changes and I never hear another word about hanging out again. Effectively my invitation is revoked. It’s not even like I was all somber or judgy about it. I just stated I don’t drink.

        I hate this whole drinking culture. ESP in the south where it’s nothing for people to go through A drive through to pick up daiquiris on the way to kids ball game or whatever.

  14. Public Enema #2 says:

    I think Cheryl is still a dancer on DWTS. AJ McLean from the Backstreet Boys, who is also in recovery, was on there recently as her partner.
    They co-host Pretty Messed Up, and often have AJ’s sobriety coach Renee Elizondo (Janet Jackson’s ex husband) on there.

    Congrats and best of luck to everyone who is working on their sobriety.

  15. Singhsong says:

    Congrats CB! And huge gratitude for you and to Kaiser. You ladies definitely inspired me to take a look at my behaviors and making a change. I’ve always appreciated you guys especially over the last four years, but this topic was a life changer for me. Thank you!

  16. Kristen says:

    Congrats on 5 years, CB!
    Hats off to everyone who is working on their sobriety, whatever stage you’re in!
    Both my parents had problems with drinking, which made me move towards abstinence.
    I could never handle my liquor well and fortunately, I wasn’t drawn to it.
    Before anyone rolls their eyes, I have weight issues and I overeat junk food and have lost and gained, lost and gained.
    Yes, I could have 1 glass of wine in an evening and stop and wouldn’t think twice about it, but I will eat half a large bag of chips or binge on a bunch of chocolate.
    I could not just have a ‘small piece of chocolate’ and be satisfied.
    CVS is my dealer.
    Bottom line is we all have issues! Sending love. XO

  17. Mmmmm... says:

    Fully support everyone’s sobriety. Yay! That’s awesome, but the one thing that BUGS THE HECK out of me is when people say alcohol doesn’t taste good. Like, I believe that some people just don’t like the taste of alcohol, but some people do. I drink wine and I love how it tastes. I even like beer these days and these things are all being made alcohol-free now because people do in fact like the taste. When sober people say that I think a lot of people who might be considering sobriety immediately check out. I know I do. Anyway, thanks for letting me rant

  18. Lex says:

    If you’re recovering from alcoholism it might not be such a great idea, but non-alcoholic “alcohol” has come along in leaps and bounds of late. I’ve had some lovely alcohol free prosecco and pinot noir. If you miss the smell/taste/social aspect but don’t want alcohol, it could be an idea. They opened a whole alcohol-free bottle shop in Sydney and it’s really popular.
    They said they actually see people often starting a dinner party with 2-3 bottles of normal alcohol, then switching to alcohol free. Way better for the head the next day!