Friends star Matthew Perry is detailing his struggles with opioid and alcohol addiction, and says he came very close to death.
Perry spoke with People about his new memoir Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing. In the magazine’s Wednesday cover article, the actor said he decided to share his story in hopes of helping others.
“I say in the book that if I did die, it would shock people, but it wouldn’t surprise anybody,” he told the outlet. “So my hope is that people will relate to it, and know that this disease attacks everybody. It doesn’t matter if you’re successful or not successful, the disease doesn’t care.”
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The 53-year-old star revealed that four years ago his colon burst from opioid abuse, and he spent two weeks in a coma.
“The doctors told my family that I had a 2% chance to live,” Perry said. “I was put on a thing called an ECMO machine, which does all the breathing for your heart and your lungs. And that’s called a Hail Mary. No one survives that.”
He continued, “There were five people put on an ECMO machine that night and the other four died and I survived. So the big question is why? Why was I the one? There has to be some kind of reason.”
The actor said he spent five months in the hospital and had to use a colostomy bag for nine months.
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The former child star landed his breakout role as Chandler Bing on Friends at age 24, and co-starred on the hit NBC series from 1994-2004. As his star rose, his alcohol addiction got worse.
“I could handle it, kind of. But by the time I was 34, I was really entrenched in a lot of trouble,” he said. “But there were years that I was sober during that time. Season 9 was the year that I was sober the whole way through. And guess which season I got nominated for best actor? I was like, ‘That should tell me something.'”
At one point, he was taking 55 Vicodin a day and his weight fell to 128 pounds.
“I didn’t know how to stop,” he explained. “If the police came over to my house and said, ‘If you drink tonight, we’re going to take you to jail,’ I’d start packing. I couldn’t stop because the disease and the addiction is progressive. So it gets worse and worse as you grow older.”
Over the years, Perry said he went to rehab 15 times and had multiple surgeries on his stomach.
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He said his former co-stars — Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer — were all supportive throughout the ordeal.
The actor is now sober. He won’t publicly share how long he’s been clean, but said he counts each day as a blessing.
He’s had 14 surgeries on his stomach and said the scars are reminders to stay sober.
“My therapist said, ‘The next time you think about taking Oxycontin, just think about having a colostomy bag for the rest of your life,'” Perry recalled. “And a little window opened and I crawled through it and I no longer want Oxycontin anymore.”
Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing goes on sale Nov. 1.