The Tragedy of a Star: Matthew Perry’s Addiction Story

08/10/20: Addiction Prevention
Matthew Perry’s Addiction Problems Matthew Perry, best known as Chandler Bing from the very famous TV sitcom F.R.I.E.N.D.S., is a 50-year-old American-Canadian actor, executive producer, and comedian. He is one of the few celebrities who are open about their addiction and don’t shy away from talking about drug usage and alcoholism to create awareness. Many famous icons have emerged after suffering and recovering from what is being called as celebrity addiction. Robert Downey Jr., Kanye West, and Jamie Lee Curtis are few influential people who have used their platform to speak up against drug and alcohol abuse. Each of them has their own story to share, where they or their loved ones were victims of substance abuse. But what inspired Perry to speak up against addiction? The answer lies in his 10-year battle with drug and alcohol addiction.

Life of the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Star

The 90s heartthrob and the hit NBC sitcom star landed his fame with F.R.I.E.N.D.S in 1994. The show became extremely popular worldwide and received 62 Emmy nominations, with each leading cast member earning up to $1 million for each episode by 2002. Landing the part of Chandler Bing put an end to Matthew’s financial hardships and gave him the popularity he had always wanted. Perry told the New York Times in 2002 that before he landed the role, he wanted to be famous. He wanted attention, fame, money, all of it altogether. And he got it. Even though his wishes came true, his personal life was far different from his life on the set of. The jolly and sarcastic Mr. Bing was battling some serious issues, including drug addiction and alcoholism.

Suffering from Alcoholism and Opiate Addiction

Matthew Perry’s addiction began with a jet-ski accident in 1997. He was prescribed Vicodin (opioids) by his doctors. Vicodin is an oral painkiller used to treat moderate to severe pain, much like what Perry had suffered from his accident. Before the accident, he was already suffering from an alcohol problem since his first taste of alcohol when he was only 13 years old. After he was prescribed Vicodin, things worsened, and he started showing signs of addiction. His addiction to Vicodin started to make him feel better than he ever had. Hence, he couldn’t stop relying on it. Aiming to get better, Perry admitted himself into a rehabilitation center, called the Minnesota Hazelden Foundation, in 1997. In an interview with People Magazine, Perry talked about his time in rehab, "I don't think there's anything in the world that I can't face, having faced that. That was the scariest thing that's ever happened to me. You get whole new respect for yourself and life when you go through something that difficult.” His weight dropped to 145 pounds over the next few years. Witnesses to his situation have reported that even though Perry never drank on set, he would come to work extremely hungover and would have episodes of sweating and shaking backstage. His co-stars encouraged him to get help, but he stayed in denial for a long time. In May 2000, because of Mathew Perry’s addiction, he suffered from a pancreatic problem for which he had to undergo surgery. He lost a staggering 20 pounds. He was the unhealthiest he had ever been in his life. Following his discharge from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after the surgery, Perry lost consciousness and crashed his car in an abandoned house. In February 2001, Perry had a revelation and realized that he needed to prioritize his life and take some control over his situation. He asked his parents for help and checked into a rehab center in L.A. He stayed there for around three months, after which he emerged with a new perspective and said, “I learned that a happy life is possible without alcohol or drugs.”

Road to Recovery

Following his release from rehab, Perry went on to finish filming his film, Serving Sara. He also went back on the set of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. The producer, Marta Kauffman, was so happy to see him and said that that it wasn't until she saw his sobriety that she realized how much he hadn’t been present. Matthew Perry’s addiction made him abstain from alcohol and opiates and motivated him to do something for the community. He converted his Malibu mansion into a sober living rehabilitation center. Since then, Perry has become an advocate who frequently speaks up against substance abuse. In 2013, he took a pledge before the Congress to ensure $41 million and $4 million for Drug Courts and Veterans Treatment Courts. He was awarded the Champion of Recovery award by the Office of National Drug Control Policy at The White House. Matthew Perry’s addiction

The Takeaway

Despite the fame and money he enjoyed, Matthew Perry’s addiction changed his life. Amongst all the dark times, he reached out for help, and that is what got him better. If you also suffer from an addiction, don’t be afraid to ask for help from a professional. It is the first step on the road to recovery. You must always remember that you are not alone in this fight. Like Perry, you can overcome the shackles and lead a life that you deserve. We, at Arizona Addiction, can help you via our Inpatient and Outpatient rehab programs and wellness-focused treatment that will lead you to a healthier and sober lifestyle. Contact us today and begin your journey toward a balanced life.  
Images source: Wikimedia Commons

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