Hayden Panettiere's childhood stardom left her feeling like an "outsider".
The 34-year-old actress has enjoyed huge success in the film and TV business over the years, but Hayden admits it's taken a toll on her social life.
The blonde beauty told PEOPLE: "I was four years old when I was on 'Guiding Light'. And I did a bunch of commercials before that. So taking some time off after 'Nashville' was important. I literally hadn't taken a break from the industry since I was like, eight months old.
"It was difficult. It's difficult to keep up with your friends, to stay in the groove. I was the outsider."
Hayden has battled opioid addiction and alcohol abuse in recent years. However, she's now keen to return to the spotlight.
Reflecting on her comeback, Hayden said: "It very much has been a process.
"It's one foot in front of the other for me, getting back on stage and trusting my instincts as an actor and trusting my instincts as I read scripts, deciding whether I like them or not and not just letting somebody else say, 'Hey, this is the project that will make you shine because of A, B, and C.'"
Despite this, Hayden won't forget her struggles with addiction.
The Hollywood star feels as though she's learned some important lessons from her health troubles.
Hayden - who has daughter Kaya, nine, with Wladimir Klitschko, her ex-partner - shared: "If you forget you were an addict, that can lead you astray.
"As long as you remember, you can stay on the same path and keep on doing those things that make you happy, make you feel healthy, make you laugh and keep you sober."