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'Friends' star Matthew Perry reveals he almost died after drug abuse in new memoir

By John Patrick Magno Ranara Published Oct 20, 2022 11:08 am

Matthew Perry, best known for his role as Chandler Bing in the hit sitcom Friends, reveals in a new memoir that he almost died after his drug addiction caused his colon to burst a few years ago.

In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE published on Oct. 19, Perry talked about his "intimate and eye-opening" memoir titled "Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing" that details his past struggles with addiction and how he slowly recovered from a life-threatening health scare.

The 53-year-old previously suffered from alcoholism, and his addiction became so severe that he entered a treatment center in 1997, staying there for almost a month. However, he only briefly stayed sober before he eventually landed in the hospital bed in 2000 because of alcohol-induced pancreatitis.

Perry told PEOPLE that he wrote his memoir because he wanted to share the moments when he was "safe from going into the dark side of everything again".

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He began his story with a shocking revelation that he almost died at the age of 49 after suffering from gastrointestinal perforation, which occurs when a hole develops all the way through the digestive track. It was caused by his overdose from the pain-relieving drug opioid.

Perry detailed that he spent weeks clinging to his life after his colon burst, with the doctors telling his family that he only had a "two percent chance to live".

"I was put on a thing called an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) machine, which does all the breathing for your heart and your lungs. And that's called a Hail Mary. No one survives that," Perry said, sharing that he was in a coma for two weeks and recovered for five months in the hospital.

To treat his ruptured colon, he had to use a colostomy bag for nine months.

Speaking about his past alcoholism, the actor said that he didn't know how to stop taking 55 Vicodin a day, "I couldn't stop because the disease and the addiction is progressive. So it gets worse and worse as you grow older."

After staying in rehabilitation facilities for 15 times throughout the years, Perry said that he is a "pretty healthy guy right now". While he chose not to reveal to the weekly magazine how long he has been sober, he said that he makes sure to count the days.

"It's important, but if you lose your sobriety, it doesn't mean you lose all that time and education. 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," he said.

His 14 surgery scars on his stomach so far also serve as a reminder for him to never go down that route again.

Perry stressed that journey had made him stronger than ever before and that it made him grateful to be alive. He hopes that through his memoir, he will be able to help others who have struggled with addiction as well.

"My hope is that people will relate to it, and know that this disease attacks everybody. It doesn't matter if you're successful or not successful, the disease doesn't care," he said.

Perry's memoir Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing will be available on Nov. 1.