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AJ McLean and Cheryl Burke open up about their struggles with alcoholism in new podcast

Posted at 1:08 PM, Dec 11, 2020

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A month after their last routine on ABC's hit show, "Dancing with the Stars," Backstreet Boy's AJ McLean and Pro Dancer Cheryl Burke are opening up about their struggles with alcoholism and mental health in a new podcast.

"It was very much what we call a dry drunk. You know, I was basically just white knuckling it and just getting lucky," said AJ McLean.

"Dancing with the Stars comes lots of attention, all of a sudden, and something that I was never comfortable with and still am not 100% comfortable with. But I used alcohol to basically numb." Cheryl said.

In their new podcast "Pretty Messed Up" on iHeart Radio, they discuss why they turned to alcohol or drugs and how they were able to overcome the addiction.

"When I came back home reeking of alcohol, my youngest daughter said that I didn't smell like her daddy. And that was the downfall for me. That was my rock bottom. I mean, after that moment, I said I was done and I couldn't have been more serious," AJ said.

"My real dad passed away two years ago and he was an alcoholic. And so I in the back of my mind, I was thinking either I was going to crash and burn or check myself into rehab or I was gonna go the complete opposite," Cheryl said.

Kicking the addition is a milestone both AJ and Cheryl share.

AJ recently celebrated one-year sober and says he turned to fellow podcast host Rene Elizondo Jr. for insight and guidance.

"In terms of AJ, I couldn't be more proud," Rene said. "I didn't get AJ sober. I'm not keeping him sober. It's not the way it works. It's something that has to come from within."

Their advice for others working toward a new beginning is to not be too hard on yourself and know progress takes time.

"We've all been in the same situation that everyone has been in, that have dealt with mental health issues, or drugs or alcohol. And to be able to kind of share those stories and to share our experience strength and hope with other people. It's such a, it's such a great way to, to, to really allow people to be vulnerable themselves," AJ said.

"Be proud of who you are and don't be ashamed," Cheryl said.

You can listen to their podcast "Pretty Messed Up" for free on the iHeart Radio app.

Also mentioned he would be thrilled to perform once again in Las Vegas when its safe to do so. And he's even more excited the next time he's here, he will be sober.