The Weeknd has spoken out about his “dark” past and once-“heavy” drug use.
In an intimate interview with The Guardian published on December 5, the R&B hit-maker (né Abel Tesfaye) talked about his start as a kid on the streets of Toronto, Canada. Raised by a single mom, he admitted to feeling a lot of loneliness.
“I didn’t have a father figure in the house,” he said. “No boys around. Just me and my mum.”
The 26-year-old artist said he eventually dropped out of high school and moved out of his mother’s home when he was 17. He and his pal La Mar Taylor moved into a one-bedroom apartment in a suburb of Toronto and spent most of their money on drugs and alcohol. The singer lists Ketamine, cocaine, MDMA, mushrooms and cough syrup as the pair’s drugs of choice.
At the time, The Weeknd told The Guardian he thought doing drugs were the only way he could be himself.
“When I had nothing to do but make music, it was very heavy,” he said. “Drugs were a crutch for me. There were songs on my first record that were seven minutes long, rambling – whatever thoughts I was having when I was under the influence at the time. I can’t see myself doing that now.”
Later on in the interview, The Weeknd confessed he continues to use drugs while creating music.
“I’ll be completely honest with you. The past couple of albums, I do get back to that,” he said, referring to doing drugs. “Even on this new album. You have writer’s block. And sometimes you’re like, I can’t do this sober.”
The Weeknd’s drug use is probably not surprising to anyone who has listened to his hit albums. He often sings about drug use and addiction.
During the interview, “The Hills” singer also admitted to having run-ins with the law. When asked if he was “squeamish” sharing his music with his mom, The Weeknd said, “For sure. Definitely. But at the same time I think she was just happy I wasn’t dead, wasn’t in jail.”
He went on to say that when he was 18, there was “some sort of near-miss with the law,” the Guardian reporter wrote, adding that The Weeknd said he spent “nights in jail” and that it was “bad enough for me to smarten up, to focus.”
The Weeknd, who recently called it quits with model Bella Hadid, was also asked about his past “complicated” history with women.
“Yeah,” he replied, agreeing with the interviewer’s description of his former relationships. “Uh. Yeah. I mean… in life… what relationship is easy?”
The Weeknd appeared to get uneasy when asked if he ever sought out treatment for his drug use.
“No. Definitely not,” he said. “I think that’s more when you’re privileged, you know? Going to a therapist is not something you do when you’re growing up as a street kid in Toronto … Sorry, bro.”
This article originally appeared on PEOPLE.COM.