Hayden Panettiere opens up about her struggles with addiction, says she was offered 'happy pills' at 15

Hayden Panettiere opens up about her struggles with addiction, says she was offered 'happy pills' at 15

Hayden Panettiere has revealed she battled alcohol and opioid addiction during the earlier stages of her career.

The actress, 32, opened up about her struggles in an interview with PEOPLE published Wednesday, tracing them back to her teenage years. By the age of 11, Panettiere had appeared in several soap operas and starred in Remember the Titans opposite Denzel Washington. Her success continued with Disney's Tiger Cruise and Bring It On: All or Nothing.

It was around that time, when she was 15, that Panettiere was first offered "happy pills," she said. "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."

As her career flourished, Panettiere was able to maintain sobriety on set, but she couldn't say the same about her time off set.

Hayden-Panettiere
Hayden-Panettiere

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images Hayden Panettiere

"My saving grace is that I couldn't be messy while on set and working," Panettiere said. "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."

She also spoke about her experiences with postpartum depression, sharing that her role as troubled country star Juliette Barnes in Nashville "hit close to home."

Panettiere's real-life pregnancy was written into the series, yielding scripts that centered on the difficulties that followed it. "Those were really tough years," she said of the period after her daughter Kaya, who is now 7, was born. "I could relate to a lot of those storylines like the alcoholism and postpartum depression." She sought treatment for depression, but her addiction hurdles remained:

"I was on top of the world and I ruined it," she said.

CONNIE BRITTON, HAYDEN PANETTIERE
CONNIE BRITTON, HAYDEN PANETTIERE

Chris Hollo/ABC Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere in 'Nashville'

An eight-month stint in rehab helped the actress break out of what she described as a "cycle of self-destruction."

"It's an everyday choice, and I'm checking in with myself all the time," Panettiere said. "But I'm just so grateful to be part of this world again, and I will never take it for granted again."

Panettiere will reprise her fan-favorite role as Kirby Reed in Scream 6, scheduled for a March 2023 theatrical release. The actress appeared in 2011's Scream 4 but did not return for this year's fifth installment, which starred newcomers Melissa Barrera, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding, and Jenna Ortega and original stars Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette.

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