It can be hard to feel badly for Justin Bieber, the pop golden child who seemingly has it all... and yet pees in a mop bucket on camera. But there's no denying that his intense fame going back to his early teenage years has taken a toll on him. In a new Vogue cover story, in which he's interviewed alongside his wife Hailey Bieber (née Baldwin), Bieber is more transparent than ever about his suffering.
The story marks Bieber's first lengthy interview in over two years. His last studio album, the commercial smash Purpose, came out in 2015, and he's kept a minimal professional profile since. He went on an extensive worldwide tour for Purpose before mysteriously canceling its final 14 dates.
“I got really depressed on tour,” Bieber told Vogue. “I haven’t talked about this, and I’m still processing so much stuff that I haven’t talked about. I was lonely. I needed some time.”
Bieber evidently abused Xanax and developed what he calls a "legitimate problem with sex" in order to make himself feel better. (Vogue's Rob Haskell writes: "It was his remaining vice, an addiction that had long since ceased to provide him any pleasure.")
The excesses took a scary turn. "I found myself doing things that I was so ashamed of, being super-promiscuous and stuff, and I think I used Xanax because I was so ashamed," Bieber says. "My mom always said to treat women with respect. For me that was always in my head while I was doing it, so I could never enjoy it. Drugs put a screen between me and what I was doing. It got pretty dark. I think there were times when my security was coming in late at night to check my pulse and see if I was still breathing."
The star went through an informal detox in 2014, at the home of Hillsong pastor Carl Lentz. (Hillsong is the Australian megachurch where Bieber and Baldwin attend services.) He also became temporarily celibate.
Though he drinks socially now, he says he hasn't ingested a drug since.
He's working on being a better man and a good husband to Hailey, whom he married last September. They admit it's been work, and they've met with a marriage counselor.
More than three years since his last album, music is still far from Bieber's mind.
"Just thinking about music stresses me out," Bieber says. "I’ve been successful since I was 13, so I didn’t really have a chance to find who I was apart from what I did. I just needed some time to evaluate myself: who I am, what I want out of my life, my relationships, who I want to be—stuff that when you’re so immersed in the music business you kind of lose sight of."
This article originally appeared on Men's Health