Could this story be any timelier?
You don’t have to search very hard to find any number of harrowing details involving the ongoing opioid crisis in America. Death, illicit drug rings and $8 billion fines are just some of the chaotic stories stemming from the ongoing opioid crisis in America.
Well, while this story is just as harrowing, for now at least, it’s a happier note than the other opioid stories.
“I wanted to share (my story) when I was safe from going into the dark side of everything again,” Matthew Perry told People magazine.
Perry, whose beloved portrayal of Chandler Bing on the wildly popular “Friends” sitcom made him a household name, has had a well-documented and troubled past with substance abuse and his ongoing health.
“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,” Perry told People. “And the main thing was, I was pretty certain that it would help people.”
Perry, whose upcoming memoir, “Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing,” was being promoted by People, has been in rehab over 15 times. But it was his latest brush with death that came the closest.
The 53-year-old Perry revealed that he almost died a few years ago when he was 49.
Perry suffered from gastrointestinal perforation, a direct result of his colon bursting from opioid overuse. Complications from that issue actually led the actor to being put in a coma for two weeks, and another five months in the hospital while being hooked up to a colostomy bag for nine months.
“The doctors told my family that I had a two percent chance to live,” Perry 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.”
Well, Perry did and is taking that dire situation to turn it into a learning experience so others could avoid following in his footsteps.
Perry was only 24 when he was first cast as Chandler on “Friends,” and his worst demons were just beginning to creep up on him.
“I could handle it, kind of. But by the time I was 34, I was really entrenched in a lot of trouble,” Perry said. “But there were years that I was sober during that time. Season nine 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.'”
The lowest point of Perry’s “Friends” career came when he was taking 55 Vicodin pills a day and was down to an unhealthy 128 pounds.
“I didn’t know how to stop,” Perry said. “If the police came over to my house and said, ‘If you drink tonight, we’re going to take you to jail,’ I’d start packing. I couldn’t stop because the disease and the addiction is progressive. So it gets worse and worse as you grow older.”
Perry’s weight fluctuation on “Friends” was both noticeable and startling.
Having watched friends so many times in my childhood, I never noticed Matthew Perry’s weight fluctuations due to addictions & now rewatching it makes me really sad…. this is him from the season 6 finale & season 7 episode 1….. pic.twitter.com/3j5u40fn1F
You’ll notice the Twitter user noted that these images are from the season six finale into the season seven premiere. Those two episodes encompassed a single day, but you can clearly see two very different-looking Chandlers.
Even after “Friends” ended in 2004, fans were still concerned about Perry in 2021 when he appeared to slur his speech and just seemed out of it during the hyped “Friends: The Reunion” special on HBO Max.
So what finally got Perry to change his life for the better?
“My therapist said, ‘The next time you think about taking Oxycontin, just think about having a colostomy bag for the rest of your life,'” Perry said. “And a little window opened and I crawled through it, and I no longer want Oxycontin anymore.”
And now Perry wants to help others crack that same window ajar and also crawl through it. Good for him.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.