In an interview with People, the “Nashville” star Hayden Panettiere said she was introduced to opioids as a teenager and that addiction was the reason she decided to send her daughter, Kaya, to live with her father in Ukraine in 2018.
Panettiere, 32, described one of her lowest points, when she knew she had to let her ex Wladimir Klitschko take over primary parenting responsibilities.
“I would have the shakes when I woke up and could only function with sipping alcohol,” she said.
The “Nashville” star said sending her daughter, now 7, to live in another country 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,” she added.
Panettiere’s addiction began when she was a teenager
In a video interview accompanying her People cover story, Panettiere said she’d been struggling with addiction since an unnamed member of her team introduced her to opioids, calling them “happy pills,” when she was 15. She said she was introduced to alcohol at Hollywood parties at 13 years old.
Panettiere, who said she remained sober while pregnant with Kaya, said she began struggling with alcohol addiction and postpartum
immediately after her daughter was born.
“I never had the feeling that I wanted to harm my child, but I didn’t want to spend any time with her,” the “Heroes” star said. She described this time in her life as having a “gray color.”
Panettiere’s pregnancy was written into “Nashville” at the time, and after having her child, her character, Juliette Barnes, also began experiencing postpartum depression on the show.
“I was stuck on this show for 10 months out of the year, 12 to 20 hours a day, playing this very dramatic character that was constantly going through the same things that I was going through in real life,” Panettiere said, describing why filming the musical drama was so hard for her. “So, when I got home, I didn’t have a chance to deal with what I was really going through.”
Panettiere said in the video she’d been to “several” treatment centers throughout the years but sobriety never stuck.
One of her low points came when she was hospitalized with jaundice — a condition that causes a distinct yellow hue on the skin, the whites of eyes, and the underside of the tongue — when her drinking increased after she sent Kaya to live with Klitschko in Ukraine. Jaundice is caused by elevated bilirubin levels, which can be linked to liver damage or disease.
“Doctors told me my liver was going to give out,” Panettiere said. At that point, she said she “finally” found a treatment center to help her deal with “unresolved trauma.”
“I found a place that literally ripped me open and then put me back together again,” she said, adding that part of her treatment involved retrieving suppressed memories she’d never had to face.
Eventually, Panettiere said that while in the facility, she began to feel content for the first time in her memory.
Panettiere told People that Kaya, who still lives abroad with Klitschko, “has a beautiful life” and that she just recently saw her daughter. In February, Panettiere told her fans via her Instagram account that Kaya was “safe and not in Ukraine” amid Russia’s invasion of the country.