‘Nashville’ Star Hayden Panettiere Reveals Opioid, Alcohol Addiction

by Megan Molseed

Former Nashville star, Hayden Panettiere is opening up to her fans, sharing her secret struggles with opioid and alcohol addictions. Addictions that not only nearly cost the star her career, but also endangered her life.

In the early to mid-2000s, actress Hayden Panettiere was one of the most recognizable people on primetime. She hit the big time at the age of sixteen portraying the cheerleader named Claire Bennet on Heroes. Then, in 2012, she joined Connie Britton onscreen when she portrayed the troubled country singer Juliette Barnes on the wildly popular series, Nashville.

However, even at this early stage in her career, Panettiere was facing struggles with addiction. According to the actress, members of her team began to offer her “happy pills” just before appearances when she was just 15 years old.

“They were to make me peppy during interviews,” the 32-year-old actress recalls in a discussion with People.

“I had no idea that this was not an appropriate thing,” Panettiere relates. “Or what door that would open for me when it came to my addiction.”

Nashville Star Hayden Panettiere’s Career Was Flourishing While Her Life Began To Spiral Out Of Control

Throughout her working years after Heroes, Hayden Panettiere continued to take opioids from time to time, while also adding alcohol to the mix. However, Panettiere recalls that her downturn was slow since she “couldn’t be messy while on set and working.”

This, the actress notes, kept her opioid and alcohol usage in check while she remained in the public eye. Well, at least for a little while Panettiere recalls.

“Things kept getting out of control [off set],” the Nashville star relates. And soon, she was fully addicted, the actress adds.

“As I got older, the drugs and alcohol became something I almost couldn’t live without,” Panettiere shares.

Soon, Panettiere Found Herself Facing Similar Consequences To That Of Her Nashville Counterpart

In 2014, Hayden Panettiere and her partner Wladimir Klitschko learned they were expecting their daughter, Kaya. A pregnancy that was also written into the wildly popular Nashville series. However, soon Panettiere would learn that she had even more in common with her troubled character. She began to spiral as her addiction to opioids and alcohol grew amid bouts of intense postpartum depression.

“I was on top of the world and I ruined it,” Panettiere says of these dark days.

“I’d think I hit rock bottom, but then there’s that trap door that opens,” she recalls.

Panettiere Breaks The Cycle Of Addiction

Eventually, Panettiere faced health issues including jaundice as her liver reacted to the constant alcohol use. She entered rehab for nearly a year; a move that the actress says gave her the tools to “get over the hump” of the addiction.

“I put a lot of work into myself,” the actress says. “And I had to be willing to be incredibly honest.” However, the actress does note that her choice to remain clean is an “everyday struggle.”

“I’m checking in with myself all the time,” she says. “But I’m just so grateful to be part of this world again, and I will never take it for granted again.”