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Matthew Perry might have been the jokester on Friends, but in real life he's serious about important issues.
The Odd Couple actor, 46, was the recipient of Phoenix House's 2015 Phoenix Rising Award. Phoenix House, a wide-reaching nonprofit drug and alcohol rehabilitation organization, has played an important role in Perry's life, as it allowed him to help set up the Perry House, his own sober-living facility.
Perry opens up in a video for The Hollywood Reporter, which was released on his 46th birthday, about his past substance abuse issues and how far he has come since his darkest days.
"I'm an award-winning alcoholic, I guess," he jokes to the magazine. "I shouldn't be getting an award; Phoenix House should be getting an award."
Perry is in the process of moving his sober-living facility to either Santa Monica, Calif., or Studio City, Calif., from Malibu, but when he toured Phoenix House's facilities, he realized even more how grateful he was to have overcome his own struggles and how great it felt to see hope on the faces of others going through a similar problem.
"Getting sober is a really hard thing to do, and I saw hope on the faces of the kids."
While the Whole Nine Yards star still acts on the small screen, most of his time is spent helping others. "I've had a lot of ups and downs in my life and a lot of wonderful accolades," he says, "but the best thing about me is that if an alcoholic comes up to me and says, 'Will you help me stop drinking?' I will say, 'Yes. I know how to do that.'"
Even though some might think going through drug or alcohol abuse in public would make it harder, Perry found that it worked to his advantage because people would pay attention. Having the huge ratings of Friends allowed the star to have a platform to help create change, so he shared his story with People magazine.
"When I was in big trouble, it was so public because I was on a TV show that 30 million people were watching," he explains. "The fact that I [am] on TV makes people listen a little bit more, so I take advantage of that from time to time."
Perry has found that having someone to turn to in a time of need is also incredibly helpful. "When you're having a bad day, call somebody and ask them how they're doing and actually pay attention and listen to the answer."
But he also knows that while treatment centers are fantastic for starting the recovery process, it's not the key to success. "You can't have a drug problem for 30 years and then expect have it be solved in 28 days," he says.