Warning: Major spoilers ahead for Justin Bieber: Seasons.
The new Justin Bieber YouTube Originals docu-series has been full of interesting tidbits about the “Yummy” singer’s life. It has touched on his mental health, creative process, and love life. And in the most revealing episode yet, Bieber is now talking publicly about his first experiences with drugs, and how he's handling Lyme disease.
He began to drink “lean” (also known as “sizzurp,” “purple drank,” and “dirty Sprite"), a narcotic made with codeine cough syrup, soda, and hard candy. Bieber also tried MDMA, psychedelic mushrooms, and other drugs.
“It was just an escape for me. I was young,” he says. “We experiment, we do just normal growing up things, but my experience was in front of cameras and I had a different level of exposure…. I started valuing the wrong things in this business because there were things dangling in front of me.”
This isn't the first time the singer as alluded to past drug use. “There is an insane pressure and responsibility put on a child who’s brain, emotions, frontal lobes (decision making) aren’t developed yet,” he wrote in an Instagram post this September. “I started doing pretty heavy drugs at 19 and abused all of my relationships.”
“I think when you take somebody very, very young and they get horrible, crazy, crippling anxiety and it goes undiagnosed and you don’t know what it is you are feeling, you start to self-medicate because it makes you feel better,” says Hailey Bieber (née Baldwin), a model and Bieber’s wife, in the docu-series. She and Bieber weren’t “in each other’s lives” until he was sober, she adds.
Ultimately, Bieber decided it was time to stop the drug use because he was basically “dying,” he shares. He says that his security team would come into his room at night to make sure he was still breathing and check his pulse. When he awoke in the morning, he’d repeat the drug spiral. “People don’t know how serious it got,” he says. “It was legit, crazy scary.”
“I basically said to myself, ‘God, if you are real, you get me through this season of stopping these pills and stuff, and if you do, I’ll do the rest of the work,’” he says. “I never did the actual work. I got off the pills but never went to the root of everything so I just circled back around which most people do.”
“Mental health is so important to get on top of,” he says. “Antidepressants help me get out of bed in the morning… [medicine] is not the only answer, but it can help you. So, that’s my advice to you.”
Besides antidepressants, the docu-series also showed Bieber using a “nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide IV treatment", which he alleges helps with his mental health. “For people who used to have a drug problem, when they get sober, the pleasure centers of their brain don't work the same,” Hailey explains. “So what NAD does is actually helps to repair that part of that brain and it helps repair the pleasure centers to balance them back out.” (These claims are unproven).
Bieber's recent Lyme disease diagnosis, which first came to light in early January, was also likely hard on his mental health. “[Lyme] can cause a whole spectrum of neuropsychiatric symptoms — mood swings, irritability, depression, anxiety,” Erica Lehman, MD, a Lyme disease specialist and Bieber’s doctor, says in the series. “Justin fits the picture of these symptoms.”
On Instagram last month, the singer shared, "While a lot of people kept saying Justin Bieber looks like sh*t, on meth etc. they failed to realize I've been recently diagnosed with Lyme disease, not only that but had a serious case of chronic mono which affected my, skin, brain function, energy, and overall health.”
“Honestly, I’m committed to getting better and committed to doing whatever I have to do, whether it’s inconvenient or not,” Bieber says in Seasons. “Because I know ultimately, it’s not only for me — but being the best me is going to help me be the best husband, the best father, the best friend I can possibly be. And for all the friends that want to enjoy the music that I make and stuff, I can’t do it if I’m not healthy. And I haven't been healthy for a long time.”
The episode's final scenes include a close-up shot of Bieber with his head in his hands. In a voice-over, he says: “It’s been really hard for me to just get out of my bed. And I know a lot of people feel the same way. So, I just also want to say you’re not alone in that. Life is worth living. If you’re not going to give up, the only thing to do is push forward. That’s it.”
If you are struggling with substance abuse, please call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for free and confidential information.
If you are experiencing anxiety and are in need of crisis support, please call the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.