“I was gifted this moment of clarity of I could change my life and I was meant for more. I hope that those moments happen for everybody,” Burgess, 38, said of her decision to get sober on the Tuesday, September 26, episode of iHeartMedia’s “Old-ish” podcast with cohosts Brian Austin Green and Randy Spelling.
The dancing pro explained that “the universe” offered her a “moment of clarity” during a party in her native Australia where people were smoking meth.
“I was 17 years old, and this was at the end of probably being awake for three days,” Burgess recalled. “We were sitting out [in] 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.”
It was then that she felt that a higher power gave her a sign. “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,” she said. “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 added that this wasn’t new behavior for her at the time. “I had been smoking meth now for a little while, not every day, but just on and off because it was new,” she claimed. “This was over 20 years ago. It wasn’t as, may I say, as dirty as it is now. It was a newer drug and a lot cleaner. So, it’s not like I had it, and I was hooked and I was on it every day. But it was definitely, at that time, a party drug and around all the time, and I was partying pretty much three to four days a week.”
However, while seeing a bunch of people older than her partying alongside her, Burgess felt like she was getting a glimpse of a future she didn’t want. “I realized that I had come from being an Australian champion ballroom dancer,” she explained. “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 … But I realized how far I’d fell and how much I needed to get back to that person, that this was not what I was meant for.”
At that moment, Burgess thought, “I am here for a reason. I am here for more.”
She moved to Melbourne to find a new environment away from her social group to focus on her career. “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,” she explained. “I need to get away from this space because if I am around it, I will go back to it. I have no willpower around this, if it is around me I will go back to it.”
She quickly turned her life around. Burgess went on to move to London at 18 to appear in several dance tours before doing several international versions of Dancing With the Stars. She joined the American DWTS as a troupe member in 2011 before becoming a pro in season 16. Burgess took home the mirrorball in season 27 with Bobby Bones.
Moving stateside was pivotal to her career as well as her search for love. She met Green, 50, in Los Angeles and the two welcomed baby Zane in June 2022. They announced their engagement earlier this month.
Green said he’d never heard her tell this story before. Both told Us Weekly earlier this month that nothing was off-limits on their new podcast.
“We haven’t come up against anything that’s off the table,” Burgess told Us on September 21. “I think naturally there’s things that we won’t share when it comes to a certain subject. We are definitely keeping some things in our space, but we went into this knowing that we wanted to be vulnerable and transparent so we can give people that opportunity to see, ‘oh wow, the things that I’m going through aren’t just me.’”
Burgess previewed the addiction episode at the time, telling Us: “That was a really interesting one to visit, as Randy and I said on it, to go back to what feels like a past life that you have a glimpse of, but not difficult in the sense of, I don’t want to share it. I feel like we’ve really come in here knowing this is what we’re wanting to do and we’re ready for it.”