Leading up to the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. reunion, fans are worried about Matthew Perry. He’s struggled with addiction since the 90’s and has had periods of sobriety, but his slurred speech in promo videos is causing speculation about a relapse.
It’s unclear whether Perry did relapse or is having health problems, but he has been open about addiction in the past. Before he started on F.R.I.E.N.D.S., it had been his dream to become famous. But once he realized that dream at age 24, it became clear that fame couldn’t be a magical salve for deeper issues.
“When it happens, it’s kind of like Disneyland for a while,” he said. “For me, it lasted about eight months, this feeling of ‘I’ve made it, I’m thrilled, there’s no problem in the world.’ And then you realize that it doesn’t accomplish anything; it’s certainly not filling any holes in your life.”
In 1997, Perry entered addiction treatment for alcohol and Vicodin. In 2000, he was admitted to the hospital for pancreatitis, a complication of alcohol use disorder. In 2001, he went back to treatment for addiction to alcohol, Vicodin, methadone, and amphetamines.
Perry had a rule that he wouldn’t drink or use on set, but says he was often “detoxing on the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. soundstage during run-throughs, sweating and shaking.” He says he doesn’t remember three years of F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
Perry got sober in 2001 because of health scares. “I didn’t get sober because I felt like it. I got sober because I was worried I was going to die the next day,” he said. “But I’m grateful for how bad it got. It only made me more adamant about trying to get better.”
In 2011, Perry went back to addiction treatment, after allegedly paying his ex to get him drugs so he wouldn’t be spotted by the paparazzi. Relapse is normal—addiction is a “chronic relapsing condition”—but the stigma about it is so profound that Perry was desperate to hide it from the public.
When Perry went back to addiction treatment in 2011, he said, “Please enjoy making fun of me on the World Wide Web.” This was a joke, but it’s true that celebrities who publicly relapse face ridicule for it. It’s happened with Lindsay Lohan, Ben Affleck, and countless others. Addiction is a health condition, not a joke, and the work of breaking stigmas needs to continue.
In 2013, Perry won a Champion of Recovery award for starting a Sober Living Home. Whether or not he has relapsed since then, he has been an advocate for addiction treatment and recovery.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is help and hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for mental health disorders and addiction in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you build a great life in recovery. To learn more, call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.