Nashville star Hayden Panettiere has revealed that she battled a years-long addiction to opioids and alcohol, admitting that her substance abuse issues became so severe, she was at risk of liver failure.
The 32-year-old actress and mother-of-one opened up about her lengthy addiction struggles in a new interview with People magazine, revealing that her drug abuse began when she was just 15 years old – and then spiraled out of control while she was battling postpartum depression after the birth of her daughter Kaya in 2014.
‘As I got older, the drugs and alcohol became something I almost couldn’t live without,’ Panettiere confessed – revealing that her struggle with postpartum depression combined with her reliance on drugs and alcohol resulted in her making the ‘heartbreaking’ decision to send her daughter away to live with her father, Wladimir Klitschko, in Ukraine.
‘I would have the shakes when I woke up and could only function with sipping alcohol,’ she admitted. ‘[Sending Kaya away] 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.’
Hayden Panettiere has revealed that she spent years battling an addiction to opioids and alcohol, admitting her substance abuse became so severe she almost suffered liver failure
The 32-year-old actress told People that her addictions spiraled out of control while she was suffering postpartum depression following the 2014 birth of her daughter Kaya (pictured)
After she sent her daughter away to live with Klitschko, 46, from whom she had split just months before following a nine-year on-off relationship, Panettiere’s drinking continued to worsen – to the point where she had to be hospitalized with jaundice.
‘Doctors told me my liver was going to give out,’ she admitted. ‘I was no longer a 20-year-old who could just bounce right back.’
Panettiere told People magazine that she feels as though she ‘ruined’ the many opportunities that she was given, noting that she was ‘on top of the world’ before plummeting into alcohol and substance abuse
The former child star, who began acting on-screen at the age of 11, when she landed roles in popular soap operas One Life to Live and Guiding Light, says her drug abuse issues started when she was just 15 – one year before she began filming hit TV series Heroes.
At the time, she claims members of her team began giving her ‘happy pills’ in an effort to make her seem more ‘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,’ she explained.
Speaking to Good Morning America on Wednesday, the actress explained that her battle with postpartum depression made her alcoholism all the more difficult to deal with because she couldn’t see where her battles with substance abuse ‘ended’ and where her depression ‘began’.
‘[The past four years have] been difficult,’ she said, looking back on her struggles since the birth of her daughter. ‘The years before were very difficult for me too. I’d been struggling for a long time.’
Asking where she sought help for her depression, Panettiere continued: ‘The bottle. The bottom of a bottle.
‘I’d been struggling for a long time,’ Panettiere told Good Morning America of the years leading up to her daughter’s birth in 2018
She added that her postpartum depression made her alcoholism all the more difficult to deal with because she turned to ‘the bottom of the bottle’ to try and cope
‘I didn’t have any negative feelings towards my child, I just knew I was deeply depressed. And I didn’t know where the alcoholism was ending and the postpartum was beginning and I ran myself pretty ragged.
‘People around me were more concerned about my usage of alcohol than they ever were about the postpartum depression.
‘I felt like I was walking blind and there was nobody there that was able to support me in the way I needed to be supported.
‘And I don’t like to ask for help either. You know, I want to be that strong, stoic woman, but when you see a [previously] happy-go-lucky girl… suddenly on the floor in a puddle of mess and alcohol, you’ve got to know something is wrong.’
After Panettiere ended up in the hospital, she finally found the strength to seek treatment for her addictions and ultimately entered rehab for eight months, where she says she found the support she needed to face her demons head-on.
‘[I made] a lot of great friends in treatment who can speak on your same level where you don’t feel like you’re going crazy,’ she told GMA.
But while the actress is now sober – and focused on ensuring her daughter Kaya is safe and sound while living in Ukraine – she admits that her struggles are far from over.
‘I’m good [but] it’s an everyday battle, it really is,’ she shared. ‘I’m grateful to say I’m sober today.’
Although Kaya, seven, is living in a country that has been ravaged by war amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Panettiere (seen with her daughter and Klitschko) insists she is ‘safe’
Panettiere (seen starring in Heroes in 2006 when she was 17) says her abuse battles began at the age of 15 when people on her team gave her ‘happy pills’ to make her ‘peppy’ in interviews
The actress’s drug and alcohol abuse issues were ongoing while she was filming the hit country music show Nashville, which ended in 2018
She added to People: ‘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.’
As for daughter Kaya, now seven, while she is currently living with her father in a country that has been ravaged by war following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Panettiere insists that her daughter is perfectly safe – and even praised the youngster’s handling of the situation.
‘She’s my favorite little person,’ she told GMA. ‘And watching how she has handled this whole Ukrainian situation has really blown my mind.
‘She is very safe and where she is, she also has a lot of friends.’
Panettiere’s interviews with People and GMA come less than four months after the actress found herself at the center of a furious controversy when she was embroiled in a physical brawl with her boyfriend Brian Hickerson and several other people outside a bar in LA.
According to TMZ, Hickerson sparked the bar brawl when he spat on a fellow patron at Sunset Marquis, which prompted the manager to throw everyone out of the establishment.
However, a representative for Panettiere told People that Hickerson ‘made a comment to an individual about leaving the waitress a poor tip.’
‘That same individual, along with the group he was with, began badgering and shoving Brian, at which point security pushed everyone outside. Brian was attacked by the group, as was Hayden, who in her best effort tried to diffuse the situation,’ the representative said.