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Hayden Panettiere Reveals She Battled Opioid, Alcohol Addiction


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Hayden Panettiere has revealed that she spent years battling an addiction to opioids and alcohol.

The Nashville actress tells People magazine that she was just 15 when someone on her team gave her “happy pills” ahead of press events to “make [her] peppy during interviews.”

She told the magazine in a cover story interview Wednesday, “I had no idea that this was not an appropriate thing, or what door that would open for me when it came to my addiction.”

She continued drinking and taking opioids as her career flourished with a high-profile starring role on Heroes. “My saving grace is that I couldn’t be messy while on set and working,” she says. “But things kept getting out of control [off set]. And as I got older, the drugs and alcohol became something I almost couldn’t live without.”

After landing another starring role on Nashville and welcoming daughter Kaya with ex Wladimir Klitschko, Panettiere struggled with postpartum depression, which she’s previously been open about.

“I never had the feeling that I wanted to harm my child, but I didn’t want to spend any time with her,” says Panettiere. “There was just this gray color in my life.”

Though she sought treatment for postpartum depression, Panettiere says she still struggled with drinking and using opioids as her relationship with Klitschko crumbled. “He didn’t want to be around me,” she recalls. “I didn’t want to be around me. But with the opiates and alcohol, I was doing anything to make me feel happy for a moment. Then I’d feel worse than I did before. I was in a cycle of self-destruction.”

She says the drinking progressed to the point where she would wake up shaking and “could only function with sipping alcohol.” She was later hospitalized, suffering from jaundice.

“Doctors told me my liver was going to give out,” Panettiere says. “I was no longer a 20-year-old who could just bounce right back.”

Amid her struggles with addiction, Panettiere decided in 2018 to send Kaya to live with Klitschko in Ukraine. “It was the hardest thing I ever had to do,” she says. “But I wanted to be a good mom to her — and sometimes that means letting them go.”

Panettiere entered rehab, undergoing both trauma therapy and inpatient treatment, and credits that time for helping her “get over the hump” of her addiction, but she says it was only recently that she’s found gratitude.

“It’s an everyday choice, and I’m checking in with myself all the time,” she says. “But I’m just so grateful to be part of this world again, and I will never take it for granted again.”

Nashville ended its six-season run on ABC in 2018. Panettiere is currently filming Scream 6, which will see her reprising her role as survivor Kirby Reed.

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