Matthew Perry Shares Deeply Personal Addiction Struggles

The man who brought us Chandler Bing's best one-liners speaks out in a new memoir.

The quintessential 1990s sitcom “Friends” means a lot of things to a lot of fans, but for original cast member Matthew Perry, it meant survival. The comedian, who originated the role of Chandler Bing, and recently appeared with real-life friends Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer and more during the “Friends” reunion special, is set to release a personal memoir.

Entitled “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing,” the book reveals deep personal details about his life and time on set, and how the iconic show saved his life in the end.

Perry has struggled with addiction his entire life. He was already dealing with alcohol abuse in his early 20s, when he was cast as Chandler at the age of 24, according to an exclusive interview with PEOPLE.

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He’s been in and out of rehab during the course of his life, but it was a life-threatening incident at age 49 that changed everything. According to PEOPLE, his struggles became so severe that he “nearly died” when his colon burst from opioid overuse.

Now 53, the “Friends” funny guy is ready to share these struggles with the world in his memoir. Perry previews that it was his cast, crew and the show’s legendary success that saved him from a more terrible fate. 

“They were understanding, and they were patient,” he tells PEOPLE

“It’s like penguins,” he elaborates. “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.”

Perry was also open and grateful for the closeness with his fellow cast members, as expressed during an interview for the Friends reunion special.

“Seeing the old set, seeing the crew, seeing the old guys…it’s just a very loving group,” he shares.

Perry dealt with his alcohol and drug abuse over the course of the show’s ten seasons and admits that it was clearly evident at the time of filming.

“If you gauge my weight from season to season — when I’m carrying weight, it’s alcohol,” he explains. “When I am skinny, it’s pills. When I have a goatee, it’s lots of pills.”

“I could handle it, kind of,” he adds. Sobriety came and went over the course of the series run, including the entirety of filming Season 9, which is when he was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series at the 2002 Emmys.

“I was like, ‘That should tell me something,'” he admits.

Perry’s memoir, set to release on November 1st, 2022, will include happy moments from his life as well. 

And while one of his most famous one-liners, “I’m not great at giving advice. Can I interest you in a sarcastic comment?” still makes us laugh, he hopes to inspire and help support those going through similar challenges, as an example of someone who went through so much himself.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please contact the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.

Katka Lapelosova
Kat is a born and raised New Yorker exploring the world as she writes, eats, and everything in between. Read more
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