Hayden Panettiere opens up about being introduced to ‘happy pills’ as a teenager

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Wednesday, September 28, the world got a glimpse into what started Hayden Panettiere’s struggle with addiction. Best known for being a Disney child actress before playing lead roles in Heroes and Nashville, Panettiere revealed she began her “cycle of self-destruction” when she was just 16.

Opening up to the hosts of Red Table Talk, the 33-year-old actress revealed her horrific experience of being introduced to drugs as a teenager. She recalled running low on energy while doing non-stop press for the science-fiction TV series Heroes. Before a red-carpet event, a member of Panettiere’s team offered her a “happy pill,” claiming it would give the teen actress energy.

At that time, Panettiere did not consider the pill a drug or a harmful substance. Looking back, she thinks the substance given to her was similar to Adderall. Yet the “happy pill” was not shared from a legal prescription but was sourced somewhere in Mexico. She gave no thought to the situation as the person was someone she trusted.

The pill did give her a “little bit of energy.” Panettiere claims she did not feel “high and out of control” but happy and eager to do the interviews, which had exhausted her. Another team member stepped in when she asked for more of the pills for her own personal use. This was when Panettiere began questioning whether taking the medication was a good idea. She states that she had “no idea” that this would open the door to addiction.

In July, Hayden Panettiere admitted in an exclusive interview with People that she drank and sometimes took opioids early in her career. She still had a degree of control, knowing she could not step on a set while inebriated. As she got older, things began to spiral “out of control” during the times she was not filming or on set. The drugs and alcohol were something she “almost couldn’t live without.”

It took a heartbreaking event for Panettiere to get on the road to recovery. In 2018, she signed over full custody of her daughter Kaya to the 7-year-old’s father, former boxer Wladimir Klitschko. The couple broke up that year, and Hayden Panettiere called letting go of her daughter “the hardest thing I could do.”

Now sober, the actress stated it feels like a “second chance” and vowed never to take being a part of this world for granted again.


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