Hayden Panettiere Gets Candid About Addiction Journey: "I Did a Lot of Work on Myself"

In a recent interview with Women's Health, Hayden Panettiere got candid about the years she spent battling an addiction to opioids and alcohol after giving birth to her daughter, Kaya, in 2014.

Panettiere, at the time, was dealing with crippling postpartum depression, which led to feelings of "extreme hopelessness." Postpartum depression is a serious mental health condition that is characterized by guilt, anxiety, and loss of motivation and energy, according to Cleveland Clinic. In a 2016 tweet, the "Nashville" star wrote PPD had taken her down a path of "unhealthy coping mechanisms."

"Some people work out. I wish that was my coping mechanism," Hayden told Women's Health. "Alcohol might make you feel better in that moment, but it makes you feel so much worse the next day, and then you do it all over again."

While navigating her severe symptoms of PPD and alcohol addiction, an old neck injury left Panettiere in a lot of pain. She then turned to opioids. "My tolerance got so high so fast that it became a problem," she explained. From there, she found herself alternating between opioids and alcohol. "I should have gone on antidepressants [to cope with the postpartum depression], but you have to find the right one that works for you," she said. "They don't mix well with alcohol, and I wasn't ready to stop drinking."

As she became more dependent on drugs and alcohol, her life, health, and career were impacted. "My body was like, 'enough,'" she said. "I hit 30. My face was swollen. I had jaundice. My eyes were yellow. I had to go to a liver specialist. I was holding on to weight that wasn't normally there. My hair was thin and coming out in clumps."

Panettiere previously revealed that at one point, while filming the show "Nashville," her real life started to mimic the life of her character, troubled country singer Juliette Barnes. "I was on top of the world and I ruined it. . . . Those were really tough years," she said in an interview with People. "I could relate to a lot of those storylines like the alcoholism and postpartum depression. They hit close to home."

Panettiere told People that at her lowest point, "I would have the shakes when I woke up and could only function with sipping alcohol." In 2018, she sent Kaya to live with her father, former boxer Wladimir Klitschko (whom Panettiere was no longer in a relationship with). "It was the hardest thing I ever had to do," she said. "But I wanted to be a good mom to her — and sometimes that means letting them go." Stuck in a "cycle of self-destruction," Panettiere eventually entered rehab, but she told People it's still "an everyday choice" to stay sober.

"I did a lot of work on myself," Hayden shared with Women's Health. "After eight months of intensive therapy, I felt like I had this blank canvas to work with."

Panettiere has been under the eyes of the paparazzi since she was 11 years old, when she came to fame in the movie "Remember the Titans." And she was introduced to drugs at an early age. The 32-year-old told People that when she was just 15, she was offered "happy pills" by someone on her team to make her "peppy" during red carpet interviews. She said she had no idea "what door that would open for me when it came to my addiction."

Panettiere follows a string of child actors who have struggled with addiction, including Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes. Being a child actor is a life Panettiere called "horrible" in her People interview, adding, "I would never wish it on my worst enemy."

Now, using her platform to push for mental health awareness, Panettiere is determined to continue being honest about her journey. "This hasn't been easy and there were a lot of ups and downs. But I don't regret even the ugliest things that have happened to me. I feel incredibly accomplished. And I feel like I have a second chance," she told People.

And without alcohol or opiates, her body continues to recover. Her coping mechanisms now look like working out with a trainer she met in treatment and sipping chamomile tea with milk and honey while soaking in vanilla-scented bubble baths, which has helped her start sleeping again.

If you or someone you know is in need of drug-related treatment or counseling, you can reach the Substance and Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on its Treatment Referral Routing Service helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).