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Celebrity drug addiction is a widespread problem that frequently attracts much media attention as a result of the fame and popularity associated with their lives. People like Matthew Perry have been the source of much illumination on the intricacies of addiction, as they have been open and frank about their battles with alcoholism and drug abuse. 

Perry’s story, which contains multiple stints in rehab and public confession of his struggles, is a strong illustration of the difficulties that public figures often endure. The attraction of fame and the stress of maintaining an image may aggravate substance abuse issues and create a cycle of addiction that is almost impossible to break. 

While celebrities’ facade of glamour and success may make them seem like everyone else, they are still as vulnerable as the rest of us, fighting their demons and battling the never-ending scrutiny of the media and public. Their stories underscore the significance of treating addiction with sensitivity and compassion, which means that we need to acknowledge the fact that behind the stardom there is a person who is struggling with a major internal challenge.

Matthew Langford Perry, who was born on August 19, 1969, in Williamstown, Massachusetts, USA, was an American actor widely known for his role as Chandler Bing on the sitcom “Friends. “

He grew up in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, where his mother, Suzanne Morrison, was the press secretary to the Prime Minister of Canada. Perry’s father, John Bennett Perry, is a former American model and an actor. He went to Ashbury College and then to Rockcliffe Park Public School. 

Perry started his acting career in the late 1980s, appearing in various television shows and movies.

The year 1994 was the turning point in his career when he was chosen for the role of Chandler Bing in the sitcom “Friends.” The show became a huge success and Perry became famous for portraying the sarcastic and lovable character. “Friends” was broadcast for ten seasons until 2004, thus Perry became a household name and won several awards nominations. After “Friends,” Perry continued to act in both television and film, though he had difficulty finding the same level of success as he did with the sitcom. He starred in projects like “The Whole Nine Yards,” “17 Again,” and “The Odd Couple,” to name a few others. In 2022, Perry candidly discussed his ups and downs in his memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing.

He died at age 54 in October 2023 following an apparent drowning.

Perry faced a lot of personal problems while he was young, like his parents’ divorce and his addiction problems.

Perry described himself as a pre-assembled, instant-addict prototype: a youth who experienced alcohol for the very first time at the age of 14 [1]. He became addicted to painkillers after his initial prescription following a jetski accident. While on drugs, he went on an ecstatic trip and drove a red Mustang convertible through the desert, experiencing total happiness. It struck him then that, if this didn’t kill him, he was doing this again [1]. He did live through it then.

Afterward, in 1997, during a jetski mishap, he started taking Vicodin, which later became associated with his narrative. “It wasn’t my intention to have a problem with it,” he stated in 2002. “But from the start, I liked how it made me feel, and I wanted to get more.”

In May 2001, Perry was living in a rehab facility while ‘The One With Monica and Chandler’s Wedding’ was airing [1].

Albeit the movie set was not the place for Perry to use 17 drinks, he was still tempted to use 16. In fact, on many occasions, he was either drunk, high, or nursing a hangover during the season 9 and 10 episodes, making Jennifer Aniston worry for him.

The narrative seemed almost contemporaneous, as if it were unfolding in the present moment: In July 2019, three years before the book’s release, Perry experienced a ruptured colon, and he had 14 surgeries done in January 2022 which were linked to his addiction “I finally have rock-hard abs, but they aren’t from sit-ups,” he said with a smile.

Here’s a brief timeline of his struggles with substance addiction and rehab:

In 1997, a Vicodin addiction caused Matthew Perry to drink a lot of alcohol. He asked for help for the first time that year and spent 28 days at the Hazelden Center in Minnesota, even though he was not able to stay sober after that [2].

By May 2000, Perry was in a health crisis when he was hospitalized for two weeks because of the pancreatitis that was caused by alcohol. During the fall of that year, he was going through the detoxification process while on the set of “Friends”, and his appearance changed a lot during the hiatus of seasons 6 and 7.

In February 2001, while filming “Serving Sara,” Perry made the crucial choice to get help, which resulted in a production delay of two months. After a stay in a private rehab center for two and a half months, he came back to finish “Serving Sara” and resume his role on “Friends” while at the same time concentrating on his personal growth. In 2002, Perry took part in several interviews, openly talking about his road to recovery and the stabilization he achieved.

In 2011 Perry announced his decision to devote a whole month to his sobriety and continuous recovery, admitting the difficulties he encountered with humor even though he was under public pressure.

Two years later, in 2013, Perry founded the Perry House, a sober living facility for men in Malibu, which was a reflection of his journey and a sign of his commitment to helping others who were fighting addiction.

In 2018, Perry encountered another health problem, and he had to stay in the hospital for three months and undergo surgery to fix a gastrointestinal perforation [2].

The much-awaited reunion of the “Friends” cast in 2021 was a chance for Perry to meet his former colleagues again, and Winston, the director, said that he was very happy with the contributions of Perry to the event though there were some negative comments about his appearance.

In July 2021, Perry posted a rare candid picture on Instagram showing his happiness and positivity.

In 2022, Perry announced the forthcoming of his memoir, “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing,” which revealed the intimate details of his struggles with addiction and health crises, including a near-death experience that was caused by opioid overuse.

Regrettably, in 2023, Perry died at the age of 54 from a supposed drowning after being found unconscious in a jacuzzi, which marked the end of his turbulent yet influential life [2].

During his 30-year struggle with drugs and alcohol, Perry estimated that he spent about $9 million on treatment and had been to rehab 15 times [3]. Nevertheless, he was enlightened by a medical accident in 2018 and realized the importance of taking the recovery path. In early October 2022, he bared his heart to the New York Times and confessed that he had been sober since early 2021.

He felt a strong connection to people who were going through the same journey as him and his odyssey taught him how to be compassionate to such people. In 2015, Perry re-directed his life and finances to helping others attain sobriety by repurposing his old Malibu beach house to become a sober living facility for men. It was from 2013 to 2015 that this safe house ran and by this time, his commitment to assisting others in their fight to recovery was more than evident [3].

As an All Rise organization ambassador, Perry put forth the idea of the justice system looking at the intervention and recovery strategies to deal with the individuals who are involved with drugs and legal system issues rather than the incarceration option.

Reports indicated that at the time of his death, Perry was setting up a foundation that would be working on helping those who had drug abuse problems. He saw his strength in helping others and thus he was able to condense this into a single sentence on the “Q With Tom Power” podcast, where he said, “The best thing about me, no doubt, is that if someone comes to me and says, ‘I can’t stop drinking, can you help me?’ I can say ‘yes’ and follow up and do it.”

Among many, Perry will be remembered as a beloved friend and firm supporter to those who are struggling with addiction and by helping them step forward in their journey to a life free from drug abuse.

1. The Guardian. ‘An alcoholic from the age of 14’: Matthew Perry’s troubled life and foreshadowed death.

2. US Magazine. Matthew Perry’s Ups and Downs Through the Years: From Overcoming Addiction to Opening a Sober House.

3. Mercury News. Matthew Perry went to rehab 15 times before getting sober. Here’s why it’s so hard.


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