Matthew Perry Dies at 54: What to Know About His Health History

Matthew Perry's health complications, addiction struggles,colon explosion, opioid abuse, alcohol-induced erectile dysfunction, pancreatitis,coma

Matthew Perry Dies at 54: What to Know About His Health History


By Paola Bapelle |

Matthew Perry, best known for his iconic role as Chandler Bing in the hit TV show "Friends," has tragically passed away at the age of 54. His prolific career included roles in both film and television, leaving an indelible mark in the entertainment industry. While he is celebrated for his talent and humor, Perry also shared a candid and often harrowing journey of battling addiction and the related health complications that marked his life.

Matthew Perry's Cause of Death

Matthew Perry's untimely death on October 28, 2023, sent shockwaves through the entertainment world. His passing was confirmed by a representative for the actor as well as law enforcement. Perry was discovered at his home in Pacific Palisades, the victim of an apparent drowning. However, two law enforcement officers stated that there were no signs of foul play involved.

Official conclusions about Perry's cause of death may take several weeks as authorities conduct a thorough investigation and toxicology testing under the oversight of the Los Angeles Medical Examiner.

Matthew Perry's Health History

Matthew Perry was not only known for his talent but also for his transparency about his health struggles, particularly his decades-long battle with addiction. His journey was well-documented, both in interviews and his memoir, "Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing."

Struggle with Addiction: A Three-Decade Long Battle

In October 2022, Perry openly shared the painful details of his three-decade struggle with addiction during an interview with People. His battle with alcohol addiction began during the early seasons of "Friends." Perry initially believed he had control over his addiction, stating, "I could handle it, kind of, but by the time I was 34, I was really entrenched in a lot of trouble."

As his addiction deepened, Perry's weight plummeted to a mere 128 pounds, and he admitted to consuming more than 50 Vicodin pills daily. Over the course of his addiction, he endured over one dozen stints in rehab and underwent at least 14 surgeries. The severity of his situation was exemplified by doctors who informed his family that he had just a two percent chance of survival. Perry candidly acknowledged, "That's the time I really came close to my life ending."

Rehabilitation Odyssey

Perry's journey to sobriety was arduous, both emotionally and financially. He disclosed in his memoir that he expended more than $7 million on rehabilitation, having gone through rehab 15 times. However, in an interview with the New York Times, he revised the number to approximately $9 million.

The actor's rehabilitation efforts encompassed a variety of methods, including time spent in mental institutions and twice-weekly therapy sessions spanning three decades. The toll of his addiction led him to the brink of death on multiple occasions.

Perry also recounted a remarkable moment from his time in rehab during the production of "Friends." He was residing in a rehabilitation facility while the show was still in full swing. During Chandler and Monica's wedding scene, Perry was transported to the set by a sober technician.

In a poignant reflection, he wrote about his feelings during the filming of the final scene of "Friends." The iconic series concluded on January 23, 2004. As the final moments were being filmed, Perry admitted that, despite the emotional farewells from his co-stars like Jennifer Aniston and Matt LeBlanc, he "felt nothing." He contemplated whether it was due to the opioid buprenorphine he was taking or if he was simply "generally dead inside."

The Near-Fatal Colon Explosion

Matthew Perry's memoir includes a harrowing account of his near-death experience in 2019. This life-threatening episode was the result of his colon rupturing due to opioid overuse.

Perry was rushed into emergency surgery, where he spent seven hours on the operating table. Medical professionals gave him just a two percent chance of surviving the night. Perry conveyed in his book, "I will have to live out the rest of my days knowing that my mother and others heard those words."

Following the surgery, he slipped into a two-week-long coma, which was followed by a five-month hospitalization. Perry also faced the challenge of using a colostomy bag for nine months. The actor deeply recognized the consequences of his actions, admitting, "I had realized that my greatest fear had come true, which is that I did this to myself."

His Heart Stopped for 5 Minutes

Another chilling account from Perry's memoir and subsequent interviews centered around a near-death experience in a Swiss rehab facility. Perry had spent the entire night ingesting hydrocodone before a surgery, during which he was also administered propofol, the anesthesia drug that was responsible for Michael Jackson's death.

Perry recalled the incident on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" in November 2022. He shared how he received CPR, an ordeal that resulted in the man administering the procedure breaking eight of his ribs while saving his life.

During his appearance on Stephen Colbert's show, Perry revealed that his "heart stopped for five minutes" during the incident, although he did not "flatline." Remarkably, he woke up in a different hospital 10 hours later.

The consequences of this incident included Perry being unable to participate in the movie "Don't Look Up" alongside Meryl Streep. He candidly disclosed, "I had to give up the biggest movie I've ever gotten. I had four scenes with Streep."

His Therapist's Impact on Recovery

In addition to his personal experiences, Perry's memoir also touched on the crucial role his therapist played in helping him overcome his addiction. He recalled that his therapist used a unique method, advising him to associate drugs with the necessity of wearing a colostomy bag "for the rest of (his) life."

The therapist's unconventional approach had a profound impact on Perry, leading him to renounce drugs. Perry declared, "I have not been interested in taking a drug since." He added, "I've surrendered, but to the winning side, not the losing. I'm no longer mired in an impossible battle with drugs and alcohol. I no longer feel the need to automatically light up a cigarette to go with my morning coffee."

Matthew Perry's health history is a testament to his resilience and the enduring battle against addiction. He shared his experiences, both in interviews and through his memoir, offering hope and inspiration to those facing similar challenges. While he may be remembered for his wit and humor, his journey also serves as a reminder that, even in the darkest times, recovery is possible.

As we mourn the loss of a talented actor, Matthew Perry's legacy lives on, not only in the characters he portrayed but also in his candid advocacy for recovery and addiction awareness.

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