“It was me thinking that I needed it.”
Few things are better than seeing your fave grow, and if you’re a member of the XO Crew, you’ll be hyped to hear that The Weeknd has made some major changes in his personal life as of late. The “Save Your Tears” singer is best known for crooning about two things: wild sex and wild drugs. But he’s actually given up the latter, and The Weeknd’s quotes about quitting drugs and being “sober lite” might make you actually shed a happy tear.
The Weeknd, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, has been through it. Even before his meteoric rise to pop stardom, he was talking about his long history with drug use. As a teen, he did numerous different hard drugs, like MDMA, Xanax, cocaine, and ketamine. Tesfaye also used mushrooms and marijuana (even dealing the latter). In 2015, he confessed to Rolling Stone that from 2008 to 2010, he was particularly dependent on drugs, calling the period his “hazy years.”
Tesfaye’s drug use followed him into early adulthood — so much that substance use is probably one of the most identifiable themes in his prolific music catalog, which now comprises eight albums, EPs, and mixtapes in total. From House of Balloons, his first mixtape from 2009, to After Hours, his newest album released in 2021, it’s always seemed like Tesfaye naturally gravitates toward moody, drug-inspired narratives.
However, even though Tesfaye’s persona as The Weeknd frequently waxed poetic about drug use, there’s been speculation for a while now that the musician is no longer a regular drug user IRL. Fueling this curiosity was an interview he had with CR Fashion Book, in which he described his changed relationship with drugs. “I have an off-and-on relationship with [them],” he explained in 2020. “It doesn’t consume my life but occasionally helps me open up my mind, especially when I’m creating, but when I perform I’m completely sober and try not to even drink.”
At the time, Tesfaye further noted that, thanks to touring, he learned to “balance” his habits. But, just this month, the pop star revealed that his relationship with drugs has evolved yet again. In a September 2021 cover story with GQ, the 31-year-old musician said he comfortably identifies with the title “sober lite.”
“Drugs were a crutch,” he noted. “It was me thinking that I needed it. And not doing the work to figure out how not to need it. And I’ve spent the last few years realizing that and thanking God that I don’t need it. Because for a lot of people, it’s hard to shake it. But I knew I didn’t want it.”
Now, Tesfaye only smokes weed and drinks “occasionally,” although “the romance of drinking isn’t there,” he said.
Overcoming substance use is not an easy feat, and I have so much respect for Tesfaye’s journey to realizing what’s best for him. Yes, king!
If you or someone you know is seeking help for substance use, call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357).