The 'Dancing with the Stars' pro said on her podcast that she once took too many drugs and was "foaming at the mouth" before realizing "this was not what I was meant for"
Sharna Burgess is getting candid about her past drug addiction.
The Dancing with the Stars pro, 38, opened up about her heavy drug use as a teen on Monday’s episode of her iHeartPodcast Old-ish with fiancé Brian Austin Green and Randy Spelling. She said started experimenting with drugs when she was 15, and that dance ultimately helped her find sobriety.
Prefacing her story with the notion that “the universe gives you signs and cues to check in and see if you're ready,” the Australia native shared her “moment of clarity” at age 17 when she realized she didn't want to continue on her destructive path.
“This was at the end of probably being awake for three days. We were sitting at the backyard of someone's house, and a crack pipe was being passed around with meth in it and we were all taking hits of it," she began.
Burgess said at that point, she “had been smoking meth now for a little while. Not every day, but just on and off because it was new."
She noted that she wasn’t “hooked” on the substance, but “it was definitely at that time a party drug going around all the time, and I was partying pretty much, three to four days a week.”
Burgess then recalled her obvious "moment of clarity": “I was sitting there watching this pipe pass around and the universe, God — whoever you call it — gave me this moment and I saw everybody sitting opposite me with complete clarity of what my future looked like.”
“Here I was 17 years old, high awake for three days, watching 20 somethings and maybe even young 30 somethings passing around this crack pipe just waiting to get a little bit more out of it,” she continued.
“I realized that I had come from being an Australian champion ballroom dancer, I represented my country at the World Championships. I was an athlete, the best in the country at the time, and because of a knee injury I fell off,” she said. “But I realized how far I'd [fallen] and how much I needed to get back to that person, that this was not what I was meant for.”
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“You had that moment on your floor on your knees. ‘I am here for a reason. I am here for more,’” she thought to herself at the time. “And I got given that blessing of a moment to see where I was at. And that was where it all changed for me and I understood. I need dance back in my life.”
In addition, Burgess said she also realized the need to “get away from this space because if I am around it, I will go back to it. I have no willpower with this.”
As a result, she moved to Melbourne and returned to dance. Back then, she said she was “thankful” that she realized what purpose the sport served her.
Her husband Green, 50 — with whom she shares son, Zane Walker, 14 months — asked her if there had been previous moments when she was given “these little signs” to seek treatment for her addiction.
“There [were] definitely scary moments,” Burgess admitted. “There was a moment at a rave when I was incredibly dehydrated and had taken too many things and started frothing and foaming at the mouth a little bit because I was so dehydrated.”
While she was being treated by paramedics, she remembered thinking that “you sober up very quickly when you're in fear of your life like that."
But, she said, “this still wasn't enough for me to stop” because there were “so many triggers that sent me back into it,” such as her home life and relationship with her father.
“I was very, very uncomfortable in my reality, so I would escape to this place of euphoria. And eventually the things I would take to get to that place of euphoria weren't strong enough or enough and I do more and have more and more often. And that was the slippery slope for me,” she added.
Burgess reiterated: “I would have been given these moments but I don't think I was ready to hear them, see them or listen to them because I was so uncomfortable in my space without that vice. I didn't consider that it could be different or better.”
It wasn’t until she “realized that I was missing dance” that she understood what she had to do in order to achieve sobriety.
“I lost my way of working through things even though I didn't know that at the time,” she said. “I think the strength [to get sober] came from realizing I needed to get back into that.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please contact the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.
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