Hayden Panettiere is opening up about the heartbreaking struggles that derailed her career and her life. The 32-year-old actress revealed to People magazine that she spent years in the throes of an opioid and alcohol addiction, then spiraled into postpartum depression after the birth of her 7-year-old daughter, Kaya, in 2014.

The Nashville star said her introduction to drugs came at just 15 years old, when a member of her team gave her “happy pills” to give her energy before a red carpet appearance. “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 said as she got older, drugs and drinking came to feel like an indispensable part of her life.

Panettiere said she was able to stay drug-free during her pregnancy, but after giving birth and experiencing postpartum depression, things got even worse. “I never had the feeling that I wanted to harm my child, but I didn’t want to spend any time with her,” the actress explained. Things got so bad that she eventually made the heartbreaking choice to hand custody of her daughter to her ex-fiance, Vladimir Klitschko, in 2018. He raised their daughter in Ukraine until the war broke out there earlier this year.

“It was the hardest thing I ever had to do,” Panettiere said of that gut-wrenching decision. “But I wanted to be a good mom to her, and sometimes that means letting them go.”

The actress’s situation rapidly worsened over the next few years. She landed in an on-again, off-again abusive relationship and drank and used drugs so heavily that doctors said her liver might fail and put her life in jeopardy. With the help of rehab and lots of therapy, however, Panettiere has been able to turn things around.

As she’s recovered and gotten herself healthy, Panettiere said her mother-daughter relationship with Kaya has been able to flourish. “I was just with her. She’s just an amazing child. She’s smart and she’s funny and for whatever reason, she still loves me.”

Panettiere is now ready for a comeback. She’s currently filming the next installment in the Scream franchise, reprising her role as Kirby Reed. It’s a job she reached out to the film’s producers on her own to land.

She told the magazine she is optimistic about her future, despite everything she’s been through. “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.”

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