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Soap Child Star Hayden Panettiere: "I Was in a Cycle of Self-Destruction"

Hayden Panettiere

Hayden Panettiere (ex-Lizzie, Guiding Light; ex-Sarah, One Life to Live) is opening up about her experiences with addiction. She recounted to People that she was only 15 when a member of her team gave her "happy pills" before she went on a red carpet.

Panettiere recalled:

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.

While her career blossomed, the actress was struggling with alcohol and opioids. During her time filming Nashville, Panettiere related to her character's storylines, as she was also dealing with postpartum depression and alcoholism in her real life. 

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Eventually, her relationship with partner Wladimir Klitschko suffered. After her pregnancy, she resumed covertly drinking and found it difficult to bond with her newborn daughter, Kaya. She said of Klitschko:

He didn't want to be around me. 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, Panettiere made the difficult decision to let Kaya go live with her father (with whom she had split) in Ukraine. Eventually, the Heroes actress was hospitalized and diagnosed with jaundice; she was told her liver "was going to give out." 

From there, she spent eight months in rehab. But it's more recently that the star found equilibrium, confessing:

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.