Friends' Matthew Perry "Grateful to Be Alive" After Addiction Battle

In a new interview, Friends alum Matthew Perry looked back at his battle with addiction and reflected on his journey to sobriety—which included a near-death experience.

By Elyse Dupre Oct 19, 2022 2:49 PMTags
Watch: Matthew Perry "Grateful to Be Alive" After Addiction Battle

Matthew Perry is sharing his sobriety journey. 

In his upcoming memoirFriends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing—the Friends alum, 53, will detail his deeply personal battle with addiction and a near-death experience a few years ago. In 2018, Perry underwent surgery in Los Angeles for a gastrointestinal perforation. While fans knew about the procedure at the time, they didn't know just how close he'd come to death.

According to his new People cover story, Perry's colon burst from opioid overuse and he ended up spending two weeks in a coma and five months in a hospital, also using a colostomy bag for nine months.

Looking back at when he was first taken to the hospital, the actor told the magazine, "The doctors told my family that I had a 2 percent chance to live. 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."

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Perry did survive. However, this hadn't been the first time he'd struggled with substance use. The TV star told the outlet his alcohol addiction started to become apparent after he was cast as Chandler Bing in Friends at age 24.

"I could handle it, kind of," Perry recalled. "But by the time I was 34, I was really entrenched in a lot of trouble." 

During that time, he continued, "there were years" that he was sober. "Season nine was the year that I was sober the whole way through," he added. "And guess which season I got nominated for best actor? I was like, 'That should tell me something.'"

Matthew Eisman/Getty Images

However, Perry had trouble maintaining his sobriety, with People reporting there was a point during his time on Friends that he was taking 55 Vicodin a day.

While Perry experienced challenges—with People stating he attended rehab 15 times over the years—he stayed committed to the journey and is now sober. And he's ready to share his experience with readers, with his book being released Nov. 1.

"I think they'll be surprised at how bad it got at certain times and how close to dying I came," Perry said. "I say in the book that if I did die, it would shock people, but it wouldn't surprise anybody. And that's a very scary thing to be living with. 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."

"I'm an extremely grateful guy," he later added. "I'm grateful to be alive, that's for sure. And that gives me the possibility to do anything."

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