Zayn Malik was a member of the hugely successful and popular boy band One Direction, creating four successful albums since 2010. In March 2015, he shocked his fans by announcing a departure from the band, pursuing a solo career instead, and possible collaborations with DJ Naughty Boy.
It began on March 19, with revelations he would quit the band's On the Road Again tour, returning home to England due to stress, according to an official statement by publicist Simon Jones. Shortly thereafter, on March 25, Jones said Malik had made the decision to leave the band completely.
A lot of questions are remained unanswered, the rumor mill hard at work trying to fill in the gaps.
Questions and rumors
While the respectful and helpful thing to do would be to wait for Malik to realize his need for help for himself, and leave the intervention to people who truly know him personally, fans and people in the media have made various conjectures of the issues Zayn Malik is facing.
In 2014, when the band made an appearance on The Today Show, Zayn was not there. Although bandmate Liam Payne said he was sick with a "tummy bug," host Matt Lauer asked if Zayn had any issues with drug use, pushing them saying, "Is it anything more serious?...There have been rumors of substance abuse...What's going on?"
In an interview with Dan Wootton for The Sun, Zayn responded to the incident, "I'm really angry and upset," by what he said were unfounded and untrue accusations of substance abuse, "I really was ill that weekend."
Signs of possible trouble
Early in 2014, video surfaced of Zayn and bandmate Louis Tomlinson were filmed smoking pot while riding in a van in Peru. The two of them are shown laughing, doing vocal exercises between tokes. This revelation was a deep disappointment to some, including a mother interviewed by the Independent who, up until that point saw the band as "good role models for my kids."
While personal marijuana use is legal in Peru, such behavior is a departure from the bands' tightly controlled image of family-friendliness. Seemingly casual and fun enjoyment of marijuana is sometimes, but not always, a warning sign or even a "gateway" to experimenting with harder drugs.
According to an anonymous source quoted by Katy Forrester writing for The Mirror, Zayn is "exhausted and sick of fame." The rigors of being such a well-known star, which include constant touring, having to act a certain way in the public eye, and spending so much time away from family felt like too much to deal with.
He has proposed to his girlfriend Perrie Edwards, a singer in the band Little Mix, but the two of them are kept so busy by their hectic lives that they have been unable to even plan a wedding day. On his Facebook page, Zayn says that "I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight."
A March 26, 2015 report from Radar quotes unnamed sources that say that management felt Zayn's "alcohol and drug use became a huge problem," and suggest he was given an ultimatum to quit the band unless he entered treatment and sobriety. This article appears to be the only one suggested any real signs of substance abuse, but there are other sources that have drawn attention to recent photographs of Zayn in which he looks gaunt and ill-kept, suggesting they were signs of drug abuse or troubling health.
However, Zayn himself has not publicly admitted to a drug use or addiction problem. Many people with addiction issues hide their problems behind a cloak of denial. People in need of recovery must first realize their own need for help, and can only make a commitment towards sobriety if they choose it for themselves. While we do not yet know whether or not Zayn has a drug or alcohol problem, we hope unproductive rumors and accusations will stop, and that he comes to a place where he is able to get whatever help he needs.