Matthew Perry says he almost died from opioid overuse: “I’m grateful to be alive”

“The doctors told my family that I had a 2 per cent chance to live”

Matthew Perry has revealed that he almost died four years ago from opioid overuse.

The Friends actor discussed his struggles with substance and alcohol abuse in an interview with People about his new memoir, Friends, Lovers, And The Big Terrible Thing.

The memoir begins with the revelation that he almost died aged 49 in 2018, and spent weeks fighting for his life after his colon burst from opioid overuse. Perry publicly acknowledged at the time that he underwent surgery to repair a gastrointestinal perforation.

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According to the report, Perry spent two weeks in a coma, five months in hospital and had to use a colostomy bag for nine months.

“The doctors told my family that I had a 2 per cent chance to live,” Perry said. “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.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Perry said he has been to rehab 15 times over the years, with his alcohol addiction first surfacing when he was cast on Friends aged 24.

Friends
Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Courteney Cox (1995). CREDIT: PictureLux

The now-sober actor shared the advice which helped him steer off drugs. “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 recalled. “And a little window opened and I crawled through it and I no longer want Oxycontin anymore.”

Speaking about his memoir, Perry said he wants to now help others who have struggled with addiction: “I think they’ll be surprised at how bad it got at certain times and how close to dying I came.

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“I say in the book that if I did die, it would shock people, but it wouldn’t surprise anybody. And that’s a very scary thing to be living with. So 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 added: “I’m an extremely grateful guy. I’m grateful to be alive, that’s for sure. And that gives me the possibility to do anything.”

Perry’s memoir, Friends, Lovers, And The Big Terrible Thing, is set to be published on November 1.

Last year, Perry joined his co-stars Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow and Matt LeBlanc for HBO special, Friends: The Reunion.

For help, advice or more information regarding addiction in the UK, visit the FRANK website. In the US, visit SAMHSA.

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