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Hayden Panettiere reveals how addiction nearly ruined her life

Hayden Panettiere has spoken out about her addiction to opioids and alcohol, and how it affected her work, relationships and motherhood. Panettiere’s smiles for the camera — whether she was promoting her latest roles or appearing with now-ex boyfriend Wladimir Klitschko — masked a troubling reliance on opioids and alcohol. Panettiere recalls her first encounters with opioids and alcohol in a candid interview with PEOPLE. At just 15 years old, a trusted member of the actress’ team began offering her pills.

They were to make me peppy during interviews,” Panettiere told PEOPLE. “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.” After the introduction to opioids, it was only a matter of time before Panettiere began to drink alcohol too. While her alcohol use was only occasional to start, it soon became a regular necessity. Soon Panettiere was sneaking drinks — something that led to her breakup with Klitschko. “He didn’t want to be around me,” she recalled. “I didn’t want to be around me. But with the opiates and alcohol, I was doing anything to make me feel happy for a moment. Klitschko and Panettiere share a seven-year-old daughter, Kaya, whom she made the tough decision to let live with her father in Ukraine.

That decision wasn’t easy, but came after Panettiere realized she couldn’t go a day without a drink. I never had the feeling that I wanted to harm my child, but I didn’t want to spend any time with her,” says Panettiere. Overtime her drinking would get worse and the “Nashville” actress would begin to suffer from jaundice, a condition in which the skin, whites of the eyes, and mucous membranes turn yellow because of a high level of bilirubin, a yellow-orange bile in the liver.Klitschko and Panettiere share a seven-year-old daughter, Kaya, whom she made the tough decision to let live with her father in Ukraine. That decision wasn’t easy, but came after Panettiere realized she couldn’t go a day without a drink.

I never had the feeling that I wanted to harm my child, but I didn’t want to spend any time with her,” says Panettiere. Overtime her drinking would get worse and the “Nashville” actress would begin to suffer from jaundice, a condition in which the skin, whites of the eyes, and mucous membranes turn yellow because of a high level of bilirubin, a yellow-orange bile in the liver.

“I would have the shakes when I woke up and could only function with sipping alcohol,” said Panettiere “Doctors told me my liver was going to give out. I was no longer a 20-year-old who could just bounce right back.” In the past year, Panettiere has gone through trauma therapy and inpatient addiction treatment. She credits her ability to stay healthy and sober to an eight-month stint in rehab. I’m just so grateful to be part of this world again, and I will never take it for granted again.”

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