Matthew Perry has long been revered for his role on the popular sitcom Friends. But the actor, who was found dead on Saturday at the age of 54, hoped his battle with addiction and his journey to sobriety would be the work for which he would be remembered.
Perry describes his own experiences with drug and alcohol abuse in his autobiography entitled “ Friends, lovers and the big terrible thing will be released in 2022. He revealed the effects of his first drink at 14, how he was drinking regularly at 18, and how he dealt with alcoholism while portraying Chandler Bing on the series for years. He recounted attending 6,000 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, going to rehab 15 times, and undergoing 65 detoxes, all while facing serious medical issues that left him on life support.
In total, he estimated that he had spent around $9 million trying to get sober himself, while also putting time and money into advocacy to help others achieve the same goal. Fans, friends and Perry himself hope these efforts will be remembered forever.
“When I die, I know people will talk about it Friends, Friends, FriendsPerry wrote in his memoirs. “But when I die, as far as my so-called achievements go, it would be nice if Friends were far behind the things I did to help other people. I know it won’t happen, but it would be nice.”
Advocating for treatment centers
Perry has been advocating for the success of treatment centers since the early 2000s, when he used his press tour to promote the film Serving Sara to discuss a recent stay at a rehabilitation facility.
“It’s pretty well documented that I had some problems with alcoholism and addiction, and before this film was over I left the film to get help,” he said in a 2002 interview Late Show with David Letterman Look. “For better or worse, I do this in the public eye. So I’m kind of a role model for other people who might be struggling with this. … My true message is that sobriety is possible if you face the situation, and I have never been happier in my entire life.”
Perry worked to make this reality possible for others by converting his 5,000-square-foot beachfront Malibu estate into a “sober” condominium for men the Perry House. Perry’s facility offered programs for men with drug problems with the help of addiction specialist Earl Hightower. The property was sold in 2015, just two years after opening, due to cost issues. However, his goal of bringing sobriety to people remained the same, which he demonstrated in a promotional video for a California-based treatment center called Phoenix House.
“The best thing about me is when an alcoholic comes up to me and says, ‘Will you help me stop drinking?’ I’ll say, ‘Yes.'” “I know how to do it,” Perry said at the time.
Statement in Support of Drug Courts
The actor’s passion for rehabilitation programs led him to become an advocate for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (now the National Association of Drug Court Professionals). All rise), an organization that encourages courts to take a public health approach to offenders with drug problems.
He testified before Congress in 2013 to support the financing of Drug courts and Veterans Treatment Courts, which provide an alternative to incarceration for low-level, nonviolent offenders by providing treatment and education related to substance abuse.
“I know firsthand the personal and societal devastation that substance abuse causes. As I recovered from prescription drug abuse, I dedicated myself to helping others,” he said in his statement. “Drug courts are the most effective program to help serious drug addicts achieve lifelong recovery and get them back to work, school and back to their families.”
He shares his story
That’s something Perry did, not just in his 2022 memoir, but also in several wide-ranging interviews (like his 2013). People magazine cover) and the play The end of longingwhich he wrote and starred in. The plot was based on his experiences with alcoholism and his trademark black comedy.
People’s interest in the topic and his relationship to it came as no surprise to Perry. This intrigue inspired him to be so open about it when he shared “the secrets.” [around addiction] are what is killing us” in his Conversation with Tom Power in 2022. “One of the main reasons I wrote the book was because I wanted people to understand it [addiction] and not many books have been written from the addict’s side and told the story from that side. Certainly not someone who appeared on one of his favorite shows or whatever. … I was the first high-profile celebrity to go to rehab,” he said.
Perry added, “I just wanted to help people.”
Perry’s cause of death has yet to be determined. However, William Moyers, vice president of public affairs for the Hazelden Betty Ford Treatment Center (where Perry first sought help in 1997), said Perry’s openness about addiction is “a story of hope and the possibility of healing.”
“Matthew has proven in his life that you can pick yourself up from the ground again and again and keep striving forward, imperfectly,” Moyers said during an on-air segment Boston public radio station WBUR. “Matthew truly epitomized the power of this disease. But in sharing and telling his story, he was also the bright light of hope. That will truly be his legacy and I hope that he inspired many of us to continue on this path day after day.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s treatment referral hotline at 800-662-HELP (4357).