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Hayden Panettiere says she’s addicted to opioids and alcohol

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Hayden Panettiere was on a downward spiral in her acting career and turned to drugs and alcohol.

The 32-year-old Heroes star revealed that she had a secret addiction to opioids, suffered from alcoholism and postpartum depression.

“I was on top of the world and I destroyed it,” she recently told People magazine. “I think I’ve reached the bottom, but then the hatch opens.”

Panettiere has a daughter, Kaya, 7, with her ex Wladimir Klitschko, a Ukrainian boxer, and has sought health help for the sake of her family after years of public drama.

“I put a lot of work into myself, and I had to be incredibly honest,” she admitted.

The Nashville alum has been attending both trauma therapy and inpatient care over the past year to help her recover. She’s even set to return to her career with Scream 6, playing her character from Kirby Reed’s teen horror franchise.

Panettiere explained that her sobriety “was not easy.”

“There were a lot of ups and downs,” she said. “But I do not regret even the ugliest things that have happened to me. I feel incredibly successful. And I feel like I have a second chance.”

Panettiere has been candid about her struggles with drugs and alcohol in a new profile in People magazine.
Nolwen Cifuentes

The mother of one also recalled how, when she was a teen star, her camp would give her “happiness pills” before she attended red carpet events.

“They were supposed to make me cheerful during the interview,” Panettiere looked around. “I had no idea it was inappropriate, or what kind of door would open for me when it came to my addiction.”

She then noted that despite her addiction to drugs and alcohol, her Hollywood career was growing. “My salvation is that I couldn’t be dirty on set and while working,” said the Snow Princess actress. “But things kept getting out of hand [off set]. And as I got older, drugs and alcohol became something I almost couldn’t live without.”

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Panettiere began dating Ukrainian boxer Wladimir Klitschko in 2009 and they have a 7-year-old daughter named Kaya.
Paul Bruinoge/Patrick McMullan

After playing the role of country singer Juliette Barnes on Nashville in 2012, she developed postpartum depression and became addicted to alcohol. Her pregnancy was also written into a musical drama series.

“Those were really difficult years,” Panettiere recalled. “I could understand a lot of those storylines, like alcoholism and postpartum depression. They were close to home.”

She began a relationship with Klitschko, now 46, in 2009 and said their courtship began to falter when she sneaked out for drinks. “He didn’t want to be near me,” she recalled. “I didn’t want to be near me. But with opiates and alcohol, I did everything to feel happy for a moment. Then I will feel worse than before. I was in a cycle of self-destruction.”

NBC Press Tour July 2007 -- "All Star Party"
“I was on top of the world and I destroyed it,” said the Nashville alum. “I think I’ve reached the bottom, but then the hatch opens.”
NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Her drinking increased and she was hospitalized with jaundice and her liver was about to “fail”. Later, she sent Kaya to live with Klitschko in Ukraine so that she could recover.

In the past few years, Panettiere has largely remained in the background due to her ongoing issues with boyfriend Brian Hickerson, whom she began dating in 2018.

In March, the couple got into a fight on camera after drinking at the Sunset Marquis Hotel in West Hollywood, California.

The couple got into a previous physical altercation in Los Angeles in May 2019 that resulted in Hickerson being arrested on domestic violence charges. At that time, he was ordered to stay 100 yards from Panettiere. However, in October of that year, the case was dropped and Hickerson was arrested again and charged with domestic violence in 2020.

The former child star was also in rehab for eight months and praised their program for giving her the tools to “get over the hump” of her addictions.

“It’s an everyday choice and I check myself all the time,” Panettiere said. “But I am so grateful to be a part of this world again and I will never take it for granted again.”

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