Hayden Panettiere is all-too-familiar with the physical and mental impact substance abuse has on the mind and body. The 33-year-old film, TV, and music sensation has battled alcohol addiction and recently opened up about that impact in a cover interview with Women’s Health, which was published on March 6.
She was 22 years old when she started drinking to cope with stress – by then, she was already a popular and successful actress and singer. She ultimately turned to the bottle in an effort to have some control over her life because, at that time, she was being told how to live her life by so many different people.
Panettiere would hide her addiction from the outside world, but things would get out of hand when alone. “Some people work out. I wish that was my coping mechanism. 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,” she said.
It was around that same time that she rekindled her romantic relationship with boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko. They got engaged in October 2013 at 24 years old and had her first child – a daughter, Kaya Evdokia – on December 9, 2014. Following the birth, Panettiere experienced postpartum depression.
Not only was she experiencing ‘extreme hopelessness’ in postpartum, but she had to deal with an old neck injury that was flaring up – which resulted in her taking opioids. To deal with the pain, she began a vicious cycle of alcohol use and opioid use, which only made her mental and physical health worse.
By 2015, she said she was ‘drowning’ and decided to admit herself into a treatment center halfway through the production of Nashville’s fourth season. Her role in the show was making it hard to move past her depression, especially since a lot of her character’s experiences were similar to her own in real life.
Not only did her Nashville character have postpartum depression, but she had abandoned her daughter (in the show) and went to a different country. At the time, her real-life daughter was stuck traveling between Nashville and Ukraine, where Klitschko was from. It was all too real for her to move on.
Hayden Panettiere Took a Break From the Industry, But Things Got Worse
In an effort to work on herself, Hayden Panettiere decided to take a break from the entertainment industry and disappeared from the public eye. Unfortunately, things only grew worse when she turned to the bottle and started drinking again to manage her anxiety. That’s when her physical health really started to suffer.
“I struggled with sleep deprivation. Sleep is massive. It affects your motor skills, your ability to think, and your overall health,” she said – adding that her face was swollen, she had jaundice, her eyes were yellow, she experienced weight gain, her hair was thinning and coming out in clumps. She needed medical help.
In 2021, she returned to treatment and enrolled in a 12-step program – as well as trauma therapy. It took her eight months, but she eventually felt like she had a ‘blank canvas to work with.’ She replaced her bad habits with good habits – which includes chamomile tea and working out with her Peloton instructor.
“A big part of my therapy has been living in forgiveness. A step in the 12-step program is making amends. If somebody wants to be a good person and to be the best version of themselves, they can choose to do that,” she said – ultimately deciding to return to acting by 2022, when she appeared in the film Scream.
Hayden Panettiere is at a much better place now than she was just a few years ago. She’s off the alcohol. She’s off the opioids. And she’s doing all the right things to put her mind and body in a better place – not just for her, but for her daughter, who she hopes will one day learn from her experiences.
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