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Hayden Panettiere opens up about secret opioid and alcohol addiction

Actress Hayden Panettiere. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

Actress Hayden Panettiere. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

Published Jul 6, 2022


Hayden Panettiere battled a secret addiction to opioids and alcohol.

The 32-year-old actress revealed her addiction got so bad it led to the breakdown of her relationship with Wladimir Klitschko and, in 2018, she sent their daughter, Kaya, to Ukraine to live with her dad.

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She told “PEOPLE”: "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."

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On sending her daughter to live with Klitschko, the “Nashville” star said: "It 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.

"I never had the feeling that I wanted to harm my child, but I didn't want to spend any time with her."

Panettiere revealed that her drug abuse started when she was 15 years old, after a member of her team offered her "happy pills". Her drug use spiralled out of control after she gave birth to Kaya in 2014 and suffered from postpartum depression.

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She explained: "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.

"My saving grace is that I couldn't be messy while on set and working. But things kept getting out of control (off set). And as I got older, the drugs and alcohol became something I almost couldn't live without."

Hayden went to rehab for eight months after her drinking got so bad that she was diagnosed with jaundice.

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In the past year, she has had intense trauma therapy and inpatient treatment.

Now, she is determined to focus on her acting career, including an upcoming role in the next “Scream” movie, and her work with Hoplon International, the charity she founded to raise funds for Ukraine.