Hayden Panettiere was on a downward spiral during her acting career, turning to drugs and alcohol.
The 32-year-old “Heroes” star revealed she had a secret addiction to opioids and suffered from alcoholism and postpartum depression.
“I was on top of the world and I screwed up,” she recently told People. “I would think I’ve hit bottom, but then there’s that hatch that opens.”
Sharing a daughter, Kaya, 7, with her ex Wladimir Klitschko, a Ukrainian boxer, Panettiere sought help for her health struggles for the sake of her family after years of public drama.
“I put a lot of work into myself and I had to be willing to be incredibly honest,” she revealed.
The “Nashville” alum has been taking both trauma therapy and inpatient treatment for the past year to help her heal. She even plans to make a comeback in her career with ‘Scream 6’, which portrays her character from the teen horror franchise, Kirby Reed.
Panettiere explained how her sobriety “wasn’t easy.”
“There were a lot of ups and downs,” she says. “But I don’t regret even the ugliest things that happened to me. I feel incredibly successful. And I feel like I’m getting a second chance.”
The mother of one of them also recalled how, when she was a teenage child, her camp would give her “happy pills” before going to red carpet events.
“They would make me peppy during interviews,” Panettiere recalled. “I had no idea this wasn’t appropriate, or what door it would open for me when it came to my addiction.”
She then noted that her Hollywood career was growing, despite her drug and alcohol addiction. “My saving grace is that I couldn’t be messy while I was on set and working,” said the “Ice Princess” actress. “But it kept getting out of hand [off set]† And as I got older, the drugs and alcohol became something I almost couldn’t live without.”
After scoring her role as country singer Juliette Barnes on “Nashville” in 2012, her postpartum depression set in and her dependence on alcohol worsened. Her pregnancy was also written into the musical drama series.
“Those were really tough years,” Panettiere recalls. “I could relate to a lot of those storylines, like alcoholism and postpartum depression. They hit close to home.”
She would later start a relationship with Klitschko, now 46, in 2009 and said their courtship started to falter when she slipped out to drink. “He didn’t want to be near me,” she said. “I didn’t want to be near me. But with the opiates and alcohol I did everything to make me happy. Then I would feel worse than before. I was in a cycle of self-destruction.”
Her alcohol consumption increased and she was hospitalized with jaundice and her liver was about to “give up”. Later she sent Kaya to Klitschko in Ukraine to get well.
Panettiere has mostly stayed out of the spotlight in recent years due to her ongoing issues with boyfriend Brian Hickerson, whom she started dating in 2018.
The couple got into a fight on camera in March after a drink at the Sunset Marquis hotel in West Hollywood, California.
The couple got into a previous physical altercation in Los Angeles in May 2019, which led to Hickerson’s arrest on charges of domestic violence. He was then ordered to stay 100 meters from Panettiere. However, the case was dropped in October of that year and Hickerson was arrested again in 2020 and charged with domestic battery.
The former child star also went through eight months of rehab, praising their program for giving her the tools to “get over the hump” of her addictions.
“It’s a daily choice, and I check myself in all the time,” Panettiere said. “But I’m just so grateful to be a part of this world again, and I’ll never take it for granted again.”