Matthew Perry’s work on addiction support is Friends star’s other big legacy

Matthew Perry’s work on addiction support is Friends star’s other big legacy

As well as opening an sober living facility, Perry spoke candidly about his own struggles with addiction

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Matthew Perry’s struggles with addiction were well documented, not least in his 2022 memoir Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing.

The Friends star was one of the best known, highest paid actors on the planet, but the book opens the lid on another side to him.

Perry suffered with addictions to alcohol and opiates which dogged him for most of his life and were, at times, catastrophic.

When he declared himself sober in 2021, he said he had dozens of life-saving surgeries, attended 6,000 AA meetings, went on 15 trips to rehab clinics and spent about $7m trying to get there.

After his death on 28 October, many of the tributes pouring in highlighted his dry wit, heartwarming smile and countless memories he gave viewers with the iconic sitcom.

But Perry also leaves another legacy: his attempts to help other people who, like himself, suffered with addiction.

He wrote in his book: “I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my life.

“I’m still working through it personally, but the best thing about me is that if an alcoholic or drug addict comes up to me and says, ‘Will you help me?’ I will always say, ‘Yes, I know how to do that. I will do that for you, even if I can’t always do it for myself.’

“So I do that, whenever I can. In groups or one-on-one.”

He later turned his former Malibu home into a sober living facility called the Perry House, which ran until 2015.

Perry also regularly spoke of his own struggles candidly over the years, including bravely agreeing to a live debate with newspaper columnist Peter Hitchens, who insisted that addiction was merely a matter of willpower.

And he wrote a play, The End Of Longing, which he described as “a personal message to the world, an exaggerated form of me as a drunk”.

He said at the time: “I had something important to say to people like me, and to people who love people like me.”

“When I die, I know people will talk about Friends, Friends, Friends. And I’m glad of that, happy I’ve done some solid work as an actor, as well as given people multiple chances to make fun of my struggles on the world wide web.

“But when I die, as far as my so-called accomplishments go, it would be nice if Friends were listed far behind the things I did to try to help other people.

“I know it won’t happen, but it would be nice.”

If you or someone you know is suffering from drug addiction, you can seek confidential help and support 24-7 from Frank, by calling 0300 123 6600, texting 82111, sending an email or visiting their website here.

How to join the indy100's free WhatsApp channel

Sign up to our free indy100 weekly newsletter

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.

The Conversation (0)