It is an all-too-familiar tale in the world of entertainment. The pressures of fame experienced at an early age drive a promising talent toward alcohol and substance misuse.
Fortunately, this story has a happy ending. In a recent interview, actor Hayden Panettiere shared her struggles with addiction to opioids and alcohol and her hard-won journey to sobriety.
Early Success—and Temptation
Panettiere entered the spotlight early, earning soap opera roles at 11 and starring in films like Remember the Titans, followed by NBC’s superhero series Heroes when she was just 16. Major roles, including the TV series Nashville, followed, and Panettiere began drinking and using drugs as her career took off. She recalls being offered “happy pills” before walking the red carpet when she was 15.
“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,” she explained.
As she got older, Panettiere felt she “almost couldn’t live without” drugs and alcohol, she added. “I was on top of the world, and I ruined it,” the now 32-year-old actor told People magazine. “I’d think I hit rock bottom, but then there’s that trap door that opens.”
Life Changing Events
After the birth of her now-seven-year-old daughter Kaya, the actor also dealt with “severe” postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a type of depression that happens after having a baby and affects up to 15 percent of people who give birth. Symptoms include emotional highs and lows, crying, fatigue, guilt, anxiety, and trouble caring for their baby.
Panettiere sought treatment for her depression, but still found herself struggling — and increasingly dependent on alcohol to get through the day.
She was later hospitalized with jaundice, a condition that causes the skin and whites of the eyes to turn yellow due to elevated levels of bilirubin (a bile pigment) and is commonly caused by alcohol use. “Doctors told me my liver was going to give out,” she recalled. “I was no longer a 20-year-old who could just bounce right back.”
Getting Help and Staying Sober
Thankfully, the actor has since gotten help for her addictions and is now in recovery.
“I put a lot of work into myself, and I had to be willing to be incredibly honest,” she told People. Panettiere spent eight months in rehab, including trauma therapy and inpatient treatment.
“This hasn’t been easy and there were a lot of ups and downs,” says Panettiere of her journey to sobriety and happiness. “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.”
“It’s an everyday choice, and I’m checking in with myself all the time,” she continued. “But I’m just so grateful to be part of this world again, and I will never take it for granted again.”
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction or a substance use disorder, call the New England Recovery Center today at 1-877-MyRehab.