Matthew Perry speaks openly for the first time about his decades-long battle with addiction.
The actor shares both the highs of his career and the darkest lows of his life in his new memoir. Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, due next month. That friends Stern revealed in an interview with persons published this week: “I wanted to share when I was safe to go back to the dark side of it all. I had to wait until I was pretty sure sober – and off the active illness alcoholism and addiction – to write it all down. And most importantly, I was pretty sure it would help people.”
In the book, Perry reveals that he almost died a few years ago at the age of 49. While he publicly admitted to suffering from gastrointestinal perforation, he was actually fighting for his life at the time his colon ruptured from opioid overuse. The actor spent two weeks in a coma, five months in the hospital, and had to use a colostomy bag for the next nine months. He shared that when he was first admitted to the hospital, “My family’s doctors said I had a 2 percent chance of survival. I was hooked up to what’s called an ECMO machine, which does all the breathing for your heart and lungs. And that’s called Ave Mary. Nobody survives that.”
Perry explained that his alcoholism started when he was cast friends at the age of 24. “I could handle it, sort of. But by the time I was 34, I was really in a lot of trouble,” he admitted. “But there were years when I was sober during that time. Season 9 was the year I was sober all the time. And guess what season I was nominated for Best Actor? I thought, ‘That should tell me something.’” But his addiction quickly escalated out of control, like at one point he was down to 128 pounds and taking 55 Vicodin a day. “I didn’t know how to quit,” he told the outlet. “If the police came to my house and said, ‘If you drink tonight, we’ll take you to jail,’ I would start packing. I couldn’t stop because the disease and addiction are progressing. So it gets worse with age.”
While his castmates “were understanding and patient,” Perry’s condition became increasingly difficult to hide, especially as his addiction caused increasingly dramatic changes in his appearance. “It’s like penguins. Penguins in nature, when one is sick or very injured, the other penguins surround and support them. They walk around him until the penguin can walk on his own. That’s what the cast did for me,” the actor said.
Perry also revealed that he’s been to rehab 15 times over the years and has had 14 surgeries on his stomach so far, but is “pretty healthy now.” He joked, “I don’t need to go to the gym much anymore because I don’t want to just be able to play superheroes. But no, I’m a pretty healthy guy at the moment.” He added that he doesn’t want to reveal exactly how long he’s been sober, but he’s still counting every day. “It’s important, but losing your sobriety doesn’t mean you lose all that time and education,” he said. “Your sober date is changing, but that’s all that’s changing. You know everything you knew before, as long as you could fight your way back without dying, you learn a lot.” And these days, he’s just “an extremely grateful guy. I’m grateful to be alive, that’s for sure. And that gives me the opportunity to do everything.”
That friends star added that he believes readers of his memoir “will be surprised at how bad things got at certain times and how close I was to death. I say in the book that if I died it would shock people, but it wouldn’t surprise anyone. And that’s a very scary thing to live with. So I hope that people identify with it and know that this disease affects everyone. It doesn’t matter if you succeed or not, the disease doesn’t care.”
https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2022/10/matthew-perry-drug-addiction-opioids-almost-died-memoir-friends-lovers-big-terrible-thing Matthew Perry “Nearly Died” When His Colon Burst Due to Opioid Addiction