Hayden Panettiere Opened Up About Her Struggles with Addiction

The 32-year-old actress shared details about her journey to sobriety in a new interview.

Hayden Panettiere
Photo: Getty Images

Hayden Panettiere recently opened up about struggling with addiction to opioids and alcohol and her journey to sobriety in a new interview with People.

"I was on top of the world and I ruined it," the 32-year-old actress told the magazine. "I'd think I hit rock bottom, but then there's that trap door that opens." (

After entering the spotlight at a young age thanks to roles on soap operas and films, such as Remember the Titans, Panettiere began drinking and taking opioids (a class of drugs that includes heroin, fentanyl, and prescription pain relievers, such as oxycodone) as her career took off. She recalls being offered "happy pills" before walking the red carpet when she was 15 years old, she said in the interview. "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," explained the actress. As she got older, Panettiere felt she "almost couldn't live without" drugs and alcohol, she added.

She's certainly not alone. Nearly 15 million people in the U.S. have an alcohol use disorder (a term used to encompass alcohol abuse, dependence, addiction, and the colloquial term alcoholism) according to 2019 data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Additionally, an estimated 10.1 million people in the U.S. misused opioids in the last year, according to a 2019 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

After the birth of her now-7-year-old daughter Kaya, the Nashville star also dealt with "severe" postpartum depression, reports People. Postpartum depression is a type of depression that happens after having a baby and affects up to 15 percent of people who give birth, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Symptoms include emotional highs and lows, crying, fatigue, guilt, anxiety, and trouble caring for their baby, notes the Cleveland Clinic.

"I never had the feeling that I wanted to harm my child, but I didn't want to spend any time with her," Panettiere told People. "There was just this gray color in my life." (

In 2018, Panettiere sent her daughter to live with her ex, Kaya's father, in Ukraine. "It was the hardest thing I ever had to do," she said in the recent interview. "But I wanted to be a good mom to her — and sometimes that means letting them go."

Panettiere was later hospitalized with jaundice, a condition that causes the skin and whites of the eyes to turn yellow due to high levels of bilirubin (a bile pigment) and may be caused by alcohol use, according to the Cleveland Clinic. "Doctors told me my liver was going to give out," she told People. "I was no longer a 20-year-old who could just bounce right back." (

Thankfully, the actress has since gotten help for her addictions and is now sober. "I put a lot of work into myself, and I had to be willing to be incredibly honest," she told People. Panettiere spent eight months in rehab, including trauma therapy and inpatient treatment, reports the magazine. "It's an everyday choice, and I'm checking in with myself all the time," said Panettiere. "But I'm just so grateful to be part of this world again, and I will never take it for granted again."

For more information on drug addiction or to get help, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a free, confidential 24-hour hotline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

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