Matthew Perry’s struggle with addiction has been public knowledge for quite some time. The good news is that he has finally won the war and has detailed every part of the experience in his new memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing. Aside from entertaining anecdotes about his life and addiction, this book is full of material that has never been published before. Join FactsVerse as we bring you up to speed on Perry’s addiction and how he’s still alive despite having a 2% survival chance.
Like many aspiring actors, Matthew Perry yearned for the spotlight that would come with his acting career’s success. In 2002, the actor confessed to the New York Times that he wanted fame so badly that steam was coming out of his ears. He wanted to be the focus of everyone’s attention, get paid a lot, and sit in the best part of the restaurant.
Perry’s wish was fulfilled in 1994 when he was cast as the sarcastic and clever Chandler Bing on Friends. The actor’s turn in the ensemble comedy couldn’t have come at a better time after he had acted in a succession of flops. The show also included Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, and David Schwimmer. Unfortunately, Perry’s private life was nothing to giggle at, despite the show’s popularity, with about 34 million viewers in its first season alone. He was hiding a dark secret from everyone. It may have looked like he was living the high life from the outside, but he was actually suffering from severe loneliness due to his drinking.
At 24, when he was cast in Friends, Perry was just beginning to experience problems with alcohol, but he was still able to cope. However, he had really gotten himself into a lot of difficulties by the time he was 34. Perry was using 55 Vicodin daily and had dropped to 128 pounds at his lowest point during his Friends reign, which was horrifying. At that time, he realized he needed to break his habit, but he had no idea how to do it. According to an interview he gave to People Magazine, if the police had been to his house and warned him that if he drank tonight, he would be taken to jail, he would immediately begin packing. That’s how severely he’d become dependent on alcohol. The progressive nature of the condition and the addiction meant that he was powerless to stop even as the effects on his health became increasingly detrimental as he aged. During an interview with BBC Radio 2’s host Steve Evans, Perry admitted that he doesn’t remember three years of his run in Friends, somewhere between seasons three and six.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN AND HIS PATH TO REHAB
Perry claims he never set out to develop an alcohol dependency, but he always appreciated the way drinking made him feel and sought more of it.
After alcoholism had already become a regular part of his life, he was injured in a jet ski accident in 1997. Drugs also came into play when he received a Vicodin prescription. That led him down a path of alcoholism, where he frequently showed up to work drunk.
Surprisingly, he had this strange rule that he would never consume alcohol while working, but he would still report to work in the worst circumstances of a hangover
In 1997, Perry spent 28 days in treatment at the Hazelden facility in Minnesota. For a short time, he was able to maintain his sobriety. He was later admitted to the hospital and kept there for two weeks when he got afflicted with alcohol-induced pancreas.
In February 2001, when the situation reached its worst, Perry finally made the decision to call for assistance. During that time, he had fewer than two weeks remaining to shoot Serving Sara, but for his sake, production was halted for two months.
Perry was able to complete Serving Sara, return to Friends, and better himself after spending two and a half months at a private rehabilitation program.
In 2002, Perry, one year into his sobriety, said to The New York Times that he didn’t stop drinking because he wanted to, but because he was afraid he would die the following day.
He started a sober living facility for guys in Malibu called the Perry House in 2013. He considers one of his greatest strengths as being able and willing to assist any alcoholic who approaches him with the question, “Will you help me stop drinking?”
Later on, Perry spent three months in the hospital in 2018 after suffering a gastrointestinal perforation and needing surgery to close the hole.
The Friends alum, who nearly died at age 49 after his colon burst due to opioid addiction, spoke out about his ordeal earlier this year.
When he was originally brought in, the doctors gave him a 2% chance of survival at best. An extracorporeal membrane oxygenation system was used to provide him with oxygen; this device takes over the body’s natural breathing mechanisms. Moreover, Perry claims his situation was a Hail Mary since the odds of survival were so low.
The scars from his fourteen stomach operations, the actor said, are constant reminders of his past health crises and help him maintain his sobriety.
While speaking to the media, he added that his therapist advised that the next time he thinks about taking Oxycontin, he should just think about having a colostomy bag for the rest of his life.
FRIENDS CAST RALLIED AROUND HIM AT THE HEIGHT OF HIS ADDICTION
Perry is never shy about thanking his Friends costars for supporting him while his addiction was at its worst. While filming Friends, Perry disclosed his struggles with his addictions and other health problems. His costars, including Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, and David Schwimmer, were there for him every step of the way, publicly and privately demonstrating their support. He praises their tolerance and compassion. He likened his fellow actors to penguins, adding that when one penguin is ill or severely damaged, the others gather around it, propping it up while they walk around it. And that’s just what the supporting cast did for him. He also said he would rather never have to face addiction than have all the wealth and notoriety he has now. Despite the fact that he would gladly give up everything if it meant never having to fight alcoholism again, he didn’t want to discount the enjoyment he’d gotten from being a part of something wonderful as Friends. While the paycheck was nice, he said, “Friends” helped save his life because of the creative outlet it provided. His friendships with the cast members have endured, as evidenced by the 2021 HBO Max reunion. Perry told reporters that the group is exceptionally close-knit and affectionate toward one another. In a 2002 feature for The New York Times, Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman said it was heartwrenching and horrifying to see Perry fight his addictions. She recalls approaching him on the first episode of the last season and expressing her delight at having him back.
Later on, Kauffman explained the system that was put in place to assist Perry. She claimed that most individuals on set were aware of parts of it and had conversations about it. In January 2020, she spoke to Us Weekly and other reporters about the group’s collective protection, optimism, and support for Perry during his ordeal.
HIS NEW BOOK
The 53-year-old actor’s memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing (out November 1), is a work of tragic beauty, chronicling his life through its great highs and devastating lows. He’s finally ready to tell the whole story of his life. At the beginning of his autobiography, Perry reveals that he came dangerously close to dying when he was 49 years old. The actor has detailed the time that he had a gastrointestinal rupture and went into detail about how he had spent two weeks in a coma, five months in the hospital, and nine months with a colostomy bag after his colon burst due to opioid overuse.
Given that he had to abstain until he was free of the active disease of alcoholism and addiction, he considers this the best moment to share the book with the world. The fact that he knew it would be beneficial to others was also crucial.
Though he’s had a lot of trouble staying clean, particularly while filming Friends, he managed to stay sober for the entirety of Season 9. It should come as no surprise that he was nominated for best actor that year. He has pointed to that incident as an example of the many that served as necessary wake-up calls for him.
Perry is honest about his relapses. In his book, he says that he has been to treatment centres 15 times over the years and is now healthy and well-versed in the tools he needs to stay sober.
Although he does not wish to reveal his current sobriety streak length, he is still keeping track. Even if you relapse and end up drinking again, he says, you still have the years you spent sober and the knowledge you gained to fall back on. Your new sober date is the only thing that alters. He also said that you already know everything there is to know, and that you will get even more insight as long as you survive the battle.
Perry’s newfound resolve to assist those who have also battled substance abuse is unwavering. He was the solitary survivor of the five individuals who were placed on an ECMO machine the same night he was admitted. To top it all off, he claims that the experience has left him with a profound question that has made him both humbled and grateful. Perry has discovered that sobriety is the foundation of thankfulness. He explains, “My sobriety is right up there because, without it, you’re going to lose everything you put in front of it.
He claims that readers would be shocked by how awful things became at times and how close he came to death, but that if he did die, it would shock people but not surprise anybody.
At the moment, he hopes that readers will be able to relate to the material of his book and see that this affliction strikes anybody regardless of whether you’re successful or not.
The journey, albeit terribly dark at times, has made Perry stronger in every aspect.
Additionally, he mentioned that the book is full of optimism because he has managed to make it to the other side of the tunnel.
There you have it. It’s now time to hear from you. How do you think Matthew Perry would end up if he battled addiction but wasn’t as successful as he is? Let us know your thoughts on that.