Matthew Perry Spills on His Past Struggles With Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Tube star talks about his newfound mission to help his fellow addicts

By Josh Grossberg Jul 02, 2013 3:40 PMTags
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If there's one thing Matthew Perry has been overly friendly with over the years, it's pill-popping and booze.

Gracing the cover of this week's issue of People, the Friends star is opening up big-time about his battles with substance abuse, a particular hardship given his iconic role on the hit sitcom and the tabloid scrutiny that accompanied it.

Perry revealed that during Friends' successful run, he not only abused alcohol routinely, but following a jet ski accident in 1997, he quickly became addicted to prescription medication that a doctor had prescribed for him.

"Here, take this,'" the actor recalled the physician telling him. "I did and I felt better than I ever felt in my entire life. I had a big problem with pills and alcohol, and I couldn't stop."

After being cast as Chandler Bing at the age of 24 and becoming a household name, he entered rehab twice to try and kick the habit all the while dealing with the fame the beloved comedy brought him, not to mention a salary topping $1 million an episode in Friends' heyday.

Now clean and sober at 43, Perry still enjoys acting, but he's channeling much of his energies these days into being a passionate advocate of drug courts where nonviolent drug offenders can be rehabilitated through treatment as opposed to jail.

In addition, the Go On star has testified before Congress as to the courts' success and lobbied politicians to provide $45 million in financing, efforts for which he was honored with an award at the White House this past May. And he transformed his Malibu mansion into a sober-living home for men called Perry House, which opened six months ago.

Matthew reflected on his past struggles and recovery and more during the sit-down. Here are some of the more revealing tidbits:

On dealing with the spotlight

"I was on Friends from age 24 to 34. I was in the white-hot flame of fame. The six of us were just everywhere all the time. From an outsider's perspective, it would seem like I had it all. It was actually a very lonely time for me because I was suffering from alcoholism," said Perry. "It was going on before Friends, but it's a progressive disease."

• On dealing with his addictions while on set

"I was never high at work. I was painfully hung over. Then eventually things got so bad I couldn't hide it and everybody knew," he admitted.

On realizing his new calling to help fellow substance abusers like himself

"I was a hopelessly narcissistic guy, and I only thought about myself, and then that just shifted, and when that happened, I got some true happiness and comfort in my life," he confessed, later adding that helping people struggling with alcoholism and addiction is the "thing I like the most about me."

• On his personal life and one day maybe having a family of his own

"I think I'd make a great dad, and I think shortly I would make a great husband," said the thesp.

The People issue with Perry hits newsstands on July 5.