Friends Star Matthew Perry Reveals How He Nearly Died From Drug Abuse

In a recent interview, Matthew Perry revealed his addiction to opioids nearly killed him.

By Jennifer Asencio | Published

Friends star Matthew Perry opened up about the consequences of his drug abuse when he revealed a health crisis from four years ago that nearly killed him. Doctors told the actor’s family that a burst colon left him with a 2% chance to survive. According to Deadline, this information was first revealed in his upcoming memoir.

Matthew Perry is known for playing Chandler Bing on the popular sitcom Friends and has commented in the past that he was abusing drugs so often that he barely remembers filming most of the show. His addiction to the pharmaceutical opioid Oxycotin eventually caused him to be hospitalized for five months and comatose for two weeks. He had to also wear a colostomy bag for nine months and, at one point, he couldn’t even breathe on his own.

“I was put on a thing called an ECMO machine, which does all the breathing for your heart and your lungs,” he explained in an interview with People. Matthew Perry had previously kept quiet about the severity of the health crisis that nearly killed him, despite being very open about his drug abuse and alcoholism while he was part of the cast of Friends. In his upcoming memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, he details his struggles with addiction.

Matthew Perry was cast on the hit show when he was 24. The show debuted on September 22, 1994, and ran for 10 seasons. It follows the trials and tribulations of a group of six protagonists as they navigate romance, careers, and social interactions in New York City.

matthew perry
Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry on Friends

The character played by Matthew Perry, Chandler Bing, started out as Joey’s roommate and lived across the hall from the apartment where the majority of the action took place. He is also a former college chum of Ross Gellar, whose sister Monica lives in the center of the action. As the characters shuffle around through apartments and relationships, he and Monica eventually get married in season seven.

Chandler is known for his sarcasm and fear of commitment, as well as having the worst Thanksgiving memories ever. His catchphrase, “Could I be any more [something],” has filtered down into everyday use by fans of the show. But while Chandler was offering laughs and sardonic wit, the actor playing him was suffering.

“There were years that I was sober during that time,” Matthew Perry admits of his drug abuse. “Season nine was the year that I was sober the whole way through. And guess which season I got nominated for best actor?”

Matthew Perry has been to rehab for his alcohol and drug abuse 15 times and caused so much damage to his body through opioid addiction that he has been operated on 14 times. At one point, he said, he was taking over 50 pills a day and weighed less than 130 pounds on a six-foot frame. Now, the surgical scars are a stark reminder of what is in store for him if he were to return to abusing Oxycotin and Vicodin.

He credits his fellow cast members for helping him through his addiction, saying that they surrounded him and nurtured him until he was in better health. He compared them to penguins, who surround a sick or injured peer until it is healthy enough to walk on its own again. “[They] were understanding, and they were patient,” he said of his co-stars.

To learn more about Matthew Perry, his time on Friends, his drug abuse, and the rest of his life, his memoir is being released on November 1, 2022. Friends is still in syndication on TBS and all 10 seasons can be viewed on HBO Max. A 2021 special called Friends: The Reunion also appeared on HBO Max and explored the show, its sets, its cast, and a myriad of special guests, much to the delight of fans of the original series.