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55 Vicodin a Day: Matthew Perry Details Friends-Era Drug Addiction

The 53-year-old opened up about his substance abuse struggles in a new interview.
  • Matthew Perry. (Photo: Everett Collection)
    Matthew Perry. (Photo: Everett Collection)

    Matthew Perry is opening up about his decades-long struggle with addiction. 

    In his new memoir Frieds, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, the 53-year-old reveals the truth about his substance abuse issues and the near-death experience that changed everything for him.

    Perry, best known for playing Chandler Bing on hit TV series Friends, admitted in an interview with People that his addiction issues only got worse as the show grew more popular. When he was cast in the series at the age of 24, he was just starting to struggle with his sobriety.

    "I could handle it, kind of. But by the time I was 34, I was really entrenched in a lot of trouble," said Perry. "But there were years that I was sober during that time. Season 9 was the year that I was sober the whole way through. And guess which season I got nominated for best actor? I was like, 'That should tell me something.'"

    One of the more alarming periods during his time on Friends came when he was taking 55 Vicodin a day. Perry was a staggering 128 pounds. "I didn't know how to stop," he admitted. "If the police came over to my house and said, 'If you drink tonight, we're going to take you to jail,' I'd start packing. I couldn't stop because the disease and the addiction is progressive. So it gets worse and worse as you grow older."

    Striking changes to Perry's appearance also made it impossible to hide the fluctuating state of his sobriety from his Friends castmates, though the actor says they "were understanding, and they were patient... It's like penguins. Penguins, in nature, when one is sick, or when one is very injured, the other penguins surround it and prop it up. They walk around it until that penguin can walk on its own. That's kind of what the cast did for me."

    The actor previously revealed that he couldn't recall filming three years of Friends. "I ​don't remember three years of it," Perry said. "...So none of those... I was a little out of it at the time. Somewhere between seasons three and six."

    Despite years of battling his substance abuse issues (and 15 stints in rehab) Perry is currently sober. He's hopeful about the future - and that being open about his addiction will help someone. 

    "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," said Perry. "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."

    Jade Budowski is a freelance writer with a knack for ruining punchlines and harboring dad-aged celebrity crushes. She was previously a reporter/producer at Decider and is a member of the Television Critics Association. Follow her on Twitter: @jadebudowski.

    TOPICS: Matthew Perry, Friends