Hayden Panettiere has revealed she became addicted to alcohol and opioids which left her in a “cycle of self-destruction”.
In an interview with People magazine, the 32-year-old Heroes star said she was offered “happy pills” from the age of 15 before walking red carpets and had only recently got “over the hump” of the addiction that ensued.
Panettiere also reflected on her severe postpartum depression and how she had to make the difficult decision to send her daughter to live with her former partner when she hit her lowest point.
The actress, who was a star by age 11 after roles in soap operas and Remember the Titans, told the magazine that she was introduced to substances as a child star.
— People (@people) July 6, 2022
She said: “They were to make me peppy during interviews.
“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.”
Her career continued to progress as she landed lead roles in superhero drama Heroes and the series Nashville.
Panettiere admitted her “saving grace” was that she could not be “messy” while on set but said things “kept getting out of control” outside of her work.
“As I got older, the drugs and alcohol became something I almost couldn’t live without,” she added.
After giving birth in 2014 to her daughter Kaya, who she shares with her former partner Wladimir Klitschko, she suffered severe postpartum depression.
She admitted that despite seeking treatment, she continued to struggle and became increasingly dependent on alcohol.
Panettiere said this tested her relationship with Klitschko who she said “didn’t want to be around” her anymore.
She added: “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.”
In 2018, the actress made the decision to send her daughter to live with Klitschko in his home country of Ukraine.
Panettiere said: “It was the hardest thing I ever had to do. But I wanted to be a good mom to her — and sometimes that means letting them go.”
The actress was eventually admitted to hospital with jaundice due to her drinking, where doctors warned her that her liver was “going to give out”.
She later entered rehab for eight months which she credits with giving her the tools to “get over the hump” of her addiction but feels that she only recently found peace again.
After taking a break from acting for the last few years, Panettiere is now reprising her popular character Kirby Reed in the next Scream film.
The actress is also working on the charity Hoplon International which she founded in March to help raise funds for Ukraine after its invasion by Russia.
Panettiere said her journey to sobriety has had “a lot of ups and downs” but says “I don’t regret even the ugliest things that have happened to me. I feel incredibly accomplished. And I feel like I have a second chance”.
She added: “It’s an everyday choice, and I’m checking in with myself all the time.
“But I’m just so grateful to be part of this world again, and I will never take it for granted again.”