Why Charlie Sheen Says He Can Relate to Matthew Perry’s Addiction Struggle

After reading Matthew Perry's 2022 memoir, Charlie Sheen said he related to "a lot of the struggle, a lot of the obsession" regarding the late actor's sobriety journey.

By Lindsay Weinberg Dec 15, 2023 11:48 PMTags
Watch: Matthew Perry Died From Acute Effects of Ketamine

Charlie Sheen feels a connection to Matthew Perry.

The Two and a Half Men alum said learning about Perry's battle with addiction really resonated with him, as someone who is nearly six years sober himself.

"I felt something similar when he died about, wow, you could easily be reading about me instead," Sheen told Deadline in an interview published Dec. 15. "That was really sad when that happened."

Sheen, 58, said he had read Perry's memoir—Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing—about his sobriety journey just six weeks before the Friends star died at age 54 due to the acute effects of ketamine.

"I can relate to it so much of it," Sheen explained. "Because I was reliving or I was experiencing it with him. A lot of the struggle, a lot of the obsession. When you're at that fork in the road when there are 76 really good choices, and you go with number 77. A lot of it really spoke to me."

Stars React to Matthew Perry's Death

The Wall Street actor—who suffered a near-fatal overdose in 1998—knew Perry "a little bit" from their lives in Hollywood, including from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) on occasion.

"He was lovely. He was smart and funny," Sheen continued. "He was charming and it wasn't always about him. He included people. He was a special cat. I wish I knew him better. I'm not saying I could have influenced some change or helped him in any way, but yeah, I just wish I knew him better."

Michael Buckner/Penske Media via Getty Images / Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

Perry was found unresponsive in his hot tub in Los Angeles on Oct. 28 and later pronounced dead. The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner's office determined Dec. 15 that he died from the effects of ketamine, and listed contributing conditions as drowning, coronary artery disease and the effects of buprenorphine, which can treat opioid use disorder.  

The toxicology report stated he was reportedly 19 months sober at the time and underwent ketamine infusion therapy—used to help with depression and anxiety—a week and a half before his death. 

His passing was ruled an accident.

Keep reading to learn about more stars getting candid on addiction and sobriety.

Tom Holland

The Spider-Man: No Way Home star stopped drinking alcohol in 2022 after feeling "enslaved" to the drink. "I was definitely addicted to alcohol, not shying away from that at all," Holland recalled on the On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast. "I think that anyone that has a beer everyday has probably got a little bit of a problem."

"And then you would just reach that moment where you're like 'Wow, I shouldn't have had that last beer,'" the actor continued. "And you wake up the next day and you have a terrible headache."

Since making the lifestyle change, Holland noticed he "could sleep better" and "handle problems better."

"Things that would go wrong on set that would normally set me off, I could take in my stride," he shared. "I had so much such better mental clarity. I felt healthier. I felt fitter."

Alec Baldwin

The star of Hunt for Red October does not often speak to his sobriety journey, which began almost forty years ago. 

"I don't discuss this a lot," he said during a May 2024 podcast appearance. "I discuss it every now and then when it makes sense. I'm 39 years sober. I got sober Feb. 23, 1985."

Speaking about his life after moving from New York City to Los Angeles in 1983, Alec explained, "I had a white-hot problem every day for two years. I think I snorted a line of cocaine from here to Saturn. We took it back home. I mean, cocaine was like coffee back then. Everybody was doing it all day long."

And after quitting the drug, he soon turned to alcohol—only to also quit that dependency. 

Today, he relies on the city around him. 

"New York relaxes me," he shared of his home. "I walk around and I see aspects of it that I've never seen before. I'll look at a building and I'll go, 'My God, I never noticed that about that building, those doors.' I have lunches and coffee and my friends."

Anne Hathaway

The Princess Diaries alum shared in April 2024 that she is more than five years sober. As she told the New York Times, "That feels like a milestone to me."

Her reasoning was clear. "I knew deep down it wasn't for me," she shared. "And it just felt so extreme to have to say, 'But none?' But none. If you're allergic to something or have an anaphylactic reaction to something, you don't argue with it. So I stopped arguing with it."

And she's happy she made that decision. "My personal experience with it is that everything is better," she continued. "For me, it was wallowing fuel. And I don't like to wallow."

Liam Payne

In May 2023, the One Direction alum celebrated being 100 days sober.

"I feel amazing," he said at the time. "I feel really, really good, and support from the fans and everything has been really, really good."

His battle began during the height of 1D mania. "The problem we had in the band—and I don't blame anybody for this...But it feels to me like, when we were in the band, the best way to secure us, because of how big it got, was to just lock us in a room. And, of course, what is in the room? A minibar," Liam shared. "So at a certain point, I thought, 'Well, I'm going to have a party for one,' and that just seemed to carry on throughout many years of my life."

Throughuot, he's been candid about his sobriety. "It was only until I saw myself after that I was like, 'All right, I need to fix myself,'" he recalled in June 2021 when  he said he was more than one month sober at the time. "It was like a few pictures of me on a boat and I'm all, like, bloated out, and I call it pills-and-booze face….My face was just like 10 times more than it is now. And I just didn't like myself very much, so then I made a change."

Demi Moore

While accepting the 2018 Woman of the Year Award by the Peggy Albrecht Friendly House, a residential program for women recovering from substance and alcohol abuse, Moore spoke about the "self-destructive path" that nearly derailed her career. 

"I feel like there's a defining moments in our lives that shape who we are and the direction we go and early in my career, I was spiraling down a path of real self-destruction and no matter what successes I had, I just never felt good enough," the star recalled. "I had absolutely no value for myself and this self-destructive path, it very quickly brought me to a real crisis point and it wasn't clear at the time the reason. Maybe it was divine intervention." 

Moore, who sought treatment in 2012, thanked two unnamed people she "barely knew" for delivering something of an ultimatum to her to turn her life around. "Unless I was dead, I better show up," she quipped, adding that she was given "a chance to redirect the course of my life before I destroyed everything."

"Clearly they saw more of me than I saw of myself," Moore noted. "And I'm so grateful because without that opportunity, without their believing me, I wouldn't be standing here today."

Matthew Perry

The late Friends star revealed in 2022 that he had spent about $9 million trying to get sober after getting hooked on alcohol and drugs at a young age. His addiction struggles began at age 14, when he started drinking Budweiser and Andrès Baby Duck, before he started dabbling in drugs like Vicodin, Xanax and OxyContin.

"I would fake back injuries. I would fake migraine headaches. I had eight doctors going at the same time," Perry said in a 2022 profile in The New York Times, marking 18 months of sobriety. "I would wake up and have to get 55 Vicodin that day, and figure out how to do it. When you're a drug addict, it's all math. I go to this place, and I need to take three. And then I go to this place, and I'm going to take five because I'm going to be there longer. It's exhausting but you have to do it or you get very, very sick."

He noted, "I wasn't doing it to feel high or to feel good. I certainly wasn't a partyer; I just wanted to sit on my couch, take five Vicodin and watch a movie. That was heaven for me. It no longer is."

Noah Cyrus

Cyrus shared in 2022 that she's been in recovery for her Xanax addiction since 2020. "It gave me so much structure in the time that I really needed structure, because I didn't want to just be sitting around and stirring in my brain," she told Rolling Stone. "It gave me hope." 

The singer added, "Once I felt that it was possible to silence things out for a second and numb your pain, it was over."

She said her friends at the time "kind of cosigned" her drug use and "it just kind of becomes this dark pit, bottomless pit." But, during the pandemic, Cyrus said she was noticing challenges and felt she wasn't emotionally present. "I was completely nodding off and falling asleep," she recalled. "And unable to keep my head up or keep my eyes open, because I was so far gone."

She eventually sought help and noted that "it took some time to get on my own two feet."

Dax Shepard

The Parenthood alum was sober for 16 years before relapsing in 2020 by taking Vicodin after a motorcycle accident. 

"For the last eight weeks maybe, I don't really know…I'm on them all day," he said on his Armchair Expert podcast. "And I'm allowed to be on them at some dosage because I have a prescription and then I'm also augmenting that."

"And I hate it," he continued. "And I'm lying to other people. And I know I have to quit. But my tolerance is going up so quickly that I'm now in a situation where I'm taking, you know, eight 30s a day, and I know that's an amount that's going to result in a pretty bad withdrawal. And I start getting really scared, and I'm starting to feel really lonely. And I just have this enormous secret." 

Jamie Lee Curtis

In 2018, the Halloween star got very candid about her 10-year addiction to opiates, which began in the late '80s after a minor plastic surgery "for my hereditary puffy eyes." The reslt was a prescription that changed her life. "I had a 10-year run, stealing, conniving," she told People. "No one knew. No one."

When her sister visited her in the summer of 1998 and brought along prescribed painkillers for a rib injury, Curtis said she hit her rock bottom. "I knew she had them in her suitcase in our guest room closet," she told the publication, crying at the memory. "I basically took all her opiates. When she was leaving I knew she would pack her suitcase and find her pills missing. I knew I had to acknowledge to her what I had done, and so I wrote her a note and left it on her suitcase. I came home that day, and she put her arms around me and told me she loved me and she was concerned about me and she was unwilling to watch me kill myself."

She attended her first meeting on Feb. 3, 1999, the same day she revealed her struggle to her filmmaker husband Christopher Guest. "He was incredulous that he'd never noticed," Curtis said, adding that she's been sober ever since.

Drew Barrymore

Barrymore, who previously went to rehab for alcohol and drug addiction, shared in 2021 that she was marking a big milestone in her journey. "I'm just going to say something for the first time in a long time: I have not had a drink of alcohol in two and a half years," she said on CBS Mornings. "And it was something that I realized just did not serve me in my life."

She added, "It's so funny. When we reveal ourselves and our truths and the things we've worked so hard for, it's so liberating and vulnerable all at the same time." 

Barrymore later explained to the Los Angeles Times that she doesn't use the "sober" label because she doesn't want people to think she's "some perfect Puritan."

"I kept thinking, ‘I'll master this. I'll figure it out,'" she said in 2023. "And finally, I just realized: ‘You've never mastered this, and you never will.'"

Bradley Cooper

The A Star Is Born actor struggled with a cocaine addiction during the early aughts before friend Will Arnett stepped in and confronted him out about his behavior.

"That was the first time I ever realized I had a problem with drugs and alcohol⁠," Cooper recalled during a 2022 appearance on the Smartless podcast. "I'll just never forget it."

Crediting Arnett as "the reason" he went sober, Cooper added, "He took that risk of having a hard conversation with me that put me on a path of deciding to change my life."

Brad Pitt

The Fight Club star spent years struggling with alcohol before Cooper helped him get sober. "I got sober because of this guy," he told the audience at the 2020 National Board of Review Annual Awards after Cooper presented him with a trophy. "And every day's been happier ever since."

Ryan Phillippe

In September 2023, the Cruel Intentions alum shared on Instagram that this was "the longest I've gone since I was a teen without some kind of nicotine or marijuana in my system (among other things)."

"Feeling thankful for the freedom that comes with breaking addictions and dependency on substance," he added. "Sobriety, clarity, and spiritual connectedness feels real good."

Demi Lovato

After publicly celebrating six years of sobriety on tour in 2018, the singer stunned fans later that same year with the release of the confessional single "Sober," which revealed that she had relapsed.

"Mama, I'm so sorry I'm not sober anymore / And Daddy please forgive me for the drinks spilled on the floor / To the ones who never left me / We've been down this road before I'm so sorry, I'm not sober anymore," she sang.

A month later, Lovato was hospitalized for a near-fatal overdose.

"I have always been transparent about my journey with addiction," she wrote on Instagram two weeks later. "What I've learned is that this illness is not something that disappears or fades with time. It is something I must continue to overcome and have not done yet...I now need time to heal and focus on my sobriety and road to recovery. The love you have all shown me will never be forgotten and I look forward to the day where I can say I came out on the other side. I will keep fighting." 

Jada Pinkett Smith

In 2018, she recalled battling her addictions to sex and alcohol. "My sort of addictions jump. They jump around. When I was younger, I definitely think I had a sex addiction of some kind, yes, that everything could be fixed by sex," she said, before sharing about the time she realized she'd developed a troubling drinking problem.

"I remember reaching a rock bottom that time I was in the house by myself and I had those two bottles of wine and was going for the third bottle," she said. "And I was like, ‘Now hold up. You're in the this house by yourself going onto your third bottle of wine? You might have a problem.'"

"So I went cold turkey. That's the thing about me: I can go cold turkey. I am a binger, and I always have to watch myself and I can just get obsessed with things," she continued. "It's not what you're doing but how you're with it. Why you're doing it. It's the behavior that's attached to it because if you want to have a lot of sex, that's great, but why are you having all that sex? That's what you've got to look at."

AJ Mclean

The Backstreet Boys member tried drugs for the first time before filming the music video for 2000's "The Call," telling Good Morning America years later that he "was off the walls" during the shoot. He got sober in 2021 and saw numerous positive benefits just one year later, including losing 32 pounds in seven months by cutting out alcohol and fast food.

"Drinking caused weight gain," he told Today in September 2022, "but it also weighed down my mental state."

Bow Wow

After the sudden death of Mac Miller, the rapper—born Shad Moss—took to Twitter to let his fans know that he'd once struggled with a cough syrup addiction

"To the youth- Stop with these dumb ass drugs," he began his series of tweets. "Im going to let something out. When me and Omarion worked on FACE OFF album. I was high off lean everyday! When yall saw me on BET going off on Torae i was high off lean. My attitude everything changed. My fans started to...Turn on me my family too. I never promoted lean in my songs. The whole time i was on the UCP tour with Chris [Brown] I WAS SIPPING 4's atleast 7 times a day. I was addicted until our show in Cincinnati.. i came off stg and passed out woke up in the hospital i was having withdraws."

"I never felt a pain like that ever," Bow Wow continued. "It was summer but i was walking round with 3 hoodies on because i was so cold. I missed the chicago show of that tour baltimore show BECAUSE I WAS F--KING HIGH AND SICK!!!! that s--t is not cool and i was doing it to be cool! Kick that s--t! Be a good son or daughter. Be the best you. Ima start being more vocal. We gotta save the youth from going out early. Parents watch your kids. Explain to them. We want yall to live man. I almost died f--king with syrup."

"To this day im affected my stomach will...Never be the same and it hasnt been. DRUG FREE IS THE WAY TO BE! smarten up tighten up out here," he told his fans. "We cant lose no more of you. Not one! I love all yall. The young artist all the kids around the world.. dont follow a trend. Break the cycle. PEACE."

Lily Allen

With the dual releases of her fourth studio album No Shame and memoir My Thoughts Exactly, the singer spent much of 2018 getting brutally honest about the height of her addition problems. According to Allen, she was abusing cocaine and drinking to the point of being "parisitically drunk. Ultimately, Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin staged an intervention after she accidentally headbutted Orlando Bloom at Kate Hudson's Halloween party and knocked herself out.

She told The Guardian, "Nothing seemed to reach or satisfy me. I remember waking up one morning in those dark days thinking, ‘Maybe it's time for heroin, because nothing else is working.'"

Dennis Quaid

The Parent Trap actor battled a cocaine addiction throughout the '80s that sent him to rehab in 1990. As he later explained on Today, he grew up in the '60s and '70s when "there was a completely different attitude" towards the drug. 

"It was even in some movie budgets. I was basically doing cocaine pretty much on a daily basis during the '80s," he admitted in 2018. "I spent many, many a night screaming at God to 'Please take this away from me and I'll never do it again, cause I've only got an hour before I have to be at work.' Then at 4 o'clock in the afternoon I'd go, 'Oh it's not so bad.'"

"I had what I call a white light experience where I saw myself either dead or losing everything that meant anything to me," he continued. He had to sit down then-fiancée Meg Ryan and explain what was going on. Then, he sought help. "That was the end of the love affair with me and cocaine."

Ryan Lochte

After an incident in Newport Beach where the Olympic swimmer tried to kick in his own hotel room door, Lochte made the decision to seek treatment in 2018. "Ryan has been battling from alcohol addiction for many years and unfortunately it has become a destructive pattern for him," his rep told E! News in a statement. "He has acknowledged that he needs professional assistance to overcome his problem and will be getting help immediately."

"Ryan knows that conquering this disease now is a must for him to avoid making future poor decisions, to be the best husband and father he can be, and if he wants to achieve his goal to return to dominance in the pool in his 5th Olympics in Tokyo in 2020," the statement concluded.

Jason Ritter

Although the Parenthood alum knows that "one of the things that you're not supposed to do is get sober for somebody else," his relationship with now-wife Melanie Lynskey was a major reason that led him to swearing off alcohol.

"At a point, I knew how amazing she was and I thought she would be incredible for someone who deserved her," he explained during a March 2023 appearance on The Drew Barrymore Show, "and I didn't feel like I was that person. I felt a little bit too crazy."

However, as Ritter noted to E! News, he now sees that sobriety is ultimately a personal choice.

"It was easier for me to say that I'm doing it for her because, at that time, I didn't feel like I was sort of worth much," he recalled of the early days of their relationship. "I didn't care as much about hurting myself as I did about hurting her. So, initially it was easier for me to say, 'I'm doing this for her.' And now, I'm doing it for myself."

Brantley Gilbert

The country star has been sober for nearly a decade, but it was a hard-fought road getting there. His addiction to alcohol and pain pills began soon after graduating from high school and didn't abate when his career began to take off. He kept a black leather laptop bag filled with bottles of Jagermeister or vodka "at arm's reach at all times," he told previously revealed to People, adding that throughout the day, "every hour and a half to two hours it'd be time to get two or three good pulls on the bottle. And every three or four hours it's time for a pill or two." 

And it had no effect on his success. "It wasn't like I was stumbling around all day," he admitted. "I was fully functioning — I wrote more songs then than I do now. That was the scary part."

In late 2011, he was hospitalized with pancreatitis and was told that if he didn't stop drinking, he wouldn't see his next birthday. "I still put it off and was trying to slow down on my own, like, 'All right I'm only gonna let myself take two pills today. I'm only gonna drink this much of my bottle and make a mark on the bottle,'" he recalled. "And it would work a couple days—and then somebody throws a party."

He eventually sought help, entering rehab on Dec. 18, 2011. "I got to the point where I knew it was something I couldn't do on my own," Gilbert said. "Pissed me off to no end and embarrassed me. I'm a pretty strong-willed person but that was the one thing in my life that I couldn't get to stick."

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