Matthew Perry reflected on his struggles with alcohol and opioid addiction, culminating in a near-death experience four years ago.
Ahead of the release of his memoir Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, Matthew told People that his struggles with alcohol were beginning to show when he was cast in Friends at age 24.
"I could handle it, kind of. But by the time I was 34, I was really entrenched in a lot of trouble," he said. "But there were years that I was sober during that time. Season 9 was the year that I was sober the whole way through. And guess which season I got nominated for best actor? I was like, 'That should tell me something.'"
Throughout the years, Matthew went to rehab 15 times. When he was 49, his colon burst from his opioid use — resulting in a five-month hospital stay that involved two weeks in a coma and having to use a colostomy bag for nine months.
At one especially low point during Friends, Matthew took 55 Vicodin every day and weighed just 128 pounds. "I couldn't stop because the disease and the addiction is progressive," he continued, noting how "patient" and "understanding" his castmates were.
"The doctors told my family that I had a 2% chance to live," he continued. Subsequently, he had 14 surgeries on his stomach. "That's a lot of reminders to stay sober: All I have to do is look down," Matthew said of his surgery scars.
As for his memoir, Matthew hopes that it will help others struggling with addiction. "I had to wait until I was pretty safely sober — and away from the active disease of alcoholism and addiction — to write it all down. And the main thing was, I was pretty certain that it would help people," he said.
One person to voice her support for Matthew's story was Jamie Lee Curtis, who has also been candid about her own addiction to Vicodin. "I am so happy that Matthew is sharing his secret so that others can realize the power of addiction and that one can find help," she wrote on Instagram. "It was when a journalist wrote an article in Esquire about his own addiction to Vicodin, that I actually realized I wasn't so alone and so unique. That became the stepping point for me to seek the help I needed which I received in recovery rooms all over the world."
You can read Matthew's full interview with People here.