Matthew Perry Can’t Re-Watch ‘Friends’ Because Of His Drug Addiction—He Was Taking ’55 Vicodin a Day’

Matthew Perry
Photo: Getty Images

Revealing the truth. Matthew Perry opened up about using drugs while he was starting Friends. In his memoir, Friends, Lovers, and The Big Terrible Thing, he wrote all about his struggle with addiction on the show and later in his life.

While promoting the book, Perry also revealed that he hasn’t re-watched the sitcom because of how he viewed his addiction. “It’s not fair that I had to go through this disease while the other five didn’t. They got everything I got, but I still had to fight this thing.” Perry told CBC Radio’s Tom Power on November 22. while promoting his book. “I can’t watch the show, because I was brutally thin and being beaten down so badly by the disease.” “I could tell season by season by how I looked, and I don’t think anybody else can, but I certainly could,” the star, who played the sarcastic Chandler Bing on the iconic sitcom, said. “That’s why I don’t want to watch it because that’s what I see—that’s what I notice when I watch it.”

Though he was opposed earlier to watching his iconic TV show, he changed his mind after writing his book. “I think I’m going to start to watch it because it really has been—first of all, it was an incredible ride—but it’s been an incredible thing to watch it touch the hearts of different generations.”

What is Matthew Perry’s drug history?


Image: NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

What is Matthew Perry’s drug history? Matthew Perry started his battle with drug addiction after he had a skiing accident on the movie set of When Fools Rush In in 1997. The doctor prescribed the drug for his pain, but as it’s a highly addictive substance, Perry’s use escalated to taking 55 pills. Along with the Vicodin addiction, he suffered from alcoholism. He recalled his appearance on the show, “When I’m carrying weight, it’s alcohol; when I’m skinny, it’s pills. When I have a goatee, it’s lots of pills.”

His Friends co-star Jennifer Aniston confronted Perry about his drinking habits on the set of the classic sitcom. “‘I know you’re drinking,’ she said,” he wrote. “I had long since gotten over her – ever since she started dating Brad Pitt, I was fine – and had worked out exactly how long to look at her without it being awkward, but still, to be confronted by Jennifer Aniston was devastating. And I was confused.”

He continued, “‘How can you tell?’ I said. I never worked drunk. ‘I’ve been trying to hide it.’” He added that the cast was always supportive by saying that they”were understanding, and they were patient. It’s like penguins. Penguins, in nature, when one is sick, or when one is very injured, the other penguins surround it and prop it up. They walk around it until that penguin can walk on its own. That’s kind of what the cast did for me.” He then went on to write, “I was the injured penguin, but I was determined to not let these wonderful people, and this show, down,” Aniston told Perry about how they found out about his drinking habits. “‘We can smell it,’ she said, in a kind of weird but loving way, and the plural ‘we’ hit me like a sledgehammer,” he recounted. “‘I know I’m drinking too much,’ I said, ‘but I don’t exactly know what to do about it.’”

When it was time to work on the show’s seventh season, Perry was living in a sober home and was driven by the center to and from the set each day. He wrote: “[I was] at the height of my highest point in Friends, the highest point in my career, the iconic moment on the iconic show,” he notes. “When you’re a drug addict, it’s all math. I wasn’t doing it to feel high or to feel good. I certainly wasn’t a partyer; I just wanted to sit on my couch, take five Vicodin and watch a movie. That was heaven for me. It no longer is.” The only season that Perry was fully sober was in season 9, which was also the time that he was nominated for an Emmy.

What is Matthew Perry’s health now?

Matthew Perry

Image: Mike Pont/WireImage

In writing his memoir, Perry talked about how he needed to be in a safe place in life to write his experiences. “I wanted to share when I was safe from going into the dark side of everything again,” he says in a cover story for People. “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 revealed that he had attended 6,000 AA meetings, gone to rehab 15 times, been in detox 65 times, has been on life support and has spent between $7-$9 million trying to get sober.

In 2018, Perry’s colon exploded due to an opioid overdose and he was in a coma for two weeks. “The doctors told my family that I had a two percent chance to live,” he told People. “I was put on a thing called an ECMO machine, which does all the breathing for your heart and your lungs. And that’s called a Hail Mary. No one survives that.” He was in the hospital with four other people who used the machine, and he was the only one who survived.  “So the big question is why? Why was I the one? There has to be some kind of reason.”

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, Perry was a rehab center in Switzerland. He was given 1,800 milligrams of Oxycontin a day and was having daily ketamine infusions. He then had to get surgery while there and was given a shot of propofol. He woke up 11 hours later in a different hospital and was told that the propofol had stopped his heart for five minutes. The long CPR process also broke eight of his ribs and the doctor refused more meds.

During the Friends reunion, Perry was joined by his former cast members  Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, and David Schwimmer for the unscripted reunion episode, which arrived on HBO Max on May 27, 2021. During the special, Perry was noticeably quieter than many of his former co-stars—and when he did speak, there were moments where it sounded like his speech was slurred. So, what was causing this? According to one source who spoke to The Sun, “Matthew turned up at the reunion and members of his team said he had an emergency tooth procedure that day. This was said to impact his well-being and also how he was feeling.”
However, he wrote in his book that he had a tooth accident before filming. “I took a bite into a piece of toast with peanut butter smeared on it, and all my top teeth fell out. Yes, all of them,” he recalled. A” quick pop to the dentist was in short order — I am, after all, an actor, and should have all my teeth in my mouth, not in a Baggie in the pocket of my jeans,” he wrote. “But disaster struck and major work was needed. The dentist had to remove every single one of my teeth — including the implants that were nailed into my jaw—and then replace them all with new ones.”

Though he doesn’t disclose when he became sober, he emphasizes the mindset one has to have to fight addiction. “It’s important, but if you lose your sobriety, it doesn’t mean you lose all that time and education,” he says. “Your sober date changes, but that’s all that changes. You know everything you knew before, as long as you were able to fight your way back without dying, you learn a lot.” The scars on his stomach from his 14 surgeries serve as “reminders to stay sober,” he says. “All I have to do is look down.”

Matthew Perry Book

Image: Flatiron Books.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, help is available. Call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for free, confidential support. 

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