Matthew Perry recalls terrifying near-death experience from opioid use

We all know Friends star Matthew Perry as the one and only Chandler Bing! The witty and sarcastic character was always ready with a joke that never failed to land. And many times, it was Perry himself who actually came up with them!

As many fans know by now, the beloved actor wrote a memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, which is set to be released on Nov. 1. Perry is getting more real than ever with the public, and is honest about his journey – from the success to personal lows.

It’s no secret the talent was struggling with his alcohol addiction while filming the beloved sitcom. That’s why there’s such drastic weight changes over the seasons. But unfortunately, that wasn’t the worst of it for Perry.

Friends star Matthew Perry recalls near-death experience from opioid use

In his upcoming memoir, Perry, 53, reveals that just a few years ago he almost died due to opioid use. He was 49. At the time, the public was told he was suffering from a gastrointestinal perforation. But in reality, he had spent weeks in the hospital after his colon burst due to opioid overuse, the actor reveals to PEOPLE. While there, he spent two weeks in a coma, five months in the hospital, and had a colostomy bag for nine months, the news outlet reports.

Perry said that doctors told his family he only had a two percent chance of living. He was also put on an ECMO machine, “which does all the breathing for your heart and your lungs.” The actor described that as his “Hail Mary” as “no one survives that.”

The unfortunate incident happened in 2018. So why is Perry choosing to share this now? He told PEOPLE:

I wanted to share when I was safe from going into the dark side of everything again. I had to wait until I was pretty safely sober — and away from the active disease of alcoholism and addiction — to write it all down. And the main thing was, I was pretty certain that it would help people.

Support from Friends cast

Perry said he tried to hide his alcohol addiction on set, but eventually his co-stars picked up on it. The actor described them as “understanding, and they were patient.”

The Friends star described that the support from his friends on set is similar to penguins in nature – when one is sick or injured, the other penguins surround it and support it until the penguin can walk on its own. And “that’s kind of what the cast did for me,” said Perry.

Matthew Perry is now sober

Perry is now ready to share his story, and isn’t trying to hide anything. Over the years, he’s relapsed 15 times, but is now sober. His near-death experience in 2018 was a wake-up call for the actor. Now, he hopes his experiences and story will help others with the same struggle:

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.

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