Matthew Perry spent more than $9m trying to get sober

Matthew Perry spent millions of dollars trying to get sober before his sudden death on Saturday 28 October aged 54.

In his 2022 memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, the actor, who shot to fame playing sarcastic jokester Chandler Bing on Friends, detailed his battle with addiction to alcohol and painkillers.

Over the course of his three-decades-long journey towards sobriety, he wrote that he spent over $7m (£5.7m) on 15 rehab stints.

Speaking to The New York Times a few weeks before his book’s release, he disclosed that the figure was actually more like “$9m [£7.4m] or something trying to get sober”.

In the book, Perry recalled drinking heavily through the first two seasons of Friends, although he said he was never drunk or high on set. He then became addicted to the opiate pain medication Vicodin after a jet ski accident while filming Fools Rush In with Salma Hayek in 1996.

“Hi, my name is Matthew, although you may know me by another name,” he wrote in the book’s opening passage. “My friends call me Matty. And I should be dead.”

At one point during his time on Friends, he was taking up to 55 Vicodin painkillers a day and was down to just 128lb (just over 9st) in weight. He said in a 2016 interview that he did not remember filming three seasons of the show because he was a “little out of it at the time”.

Friends creator Marta Kauffman has said Matthew Perry was ‘happy and chipper’ just weeks before his death (Ian West/PA) (PA Archive)
Friends creator Marta Kauffman has said Matthew Perry was ‘happy and chipper’ just weeks before his death (Ian West/PA) (PA Archive)

Perry said that his drug addiction grew under the “white-hot flame of fame”.

Following numerous surgeries, several near-death experiences and therapy sessions, the actor described himself as “pretty healthy” by June 2022 and said he was motivated to help others struggling with addiction.

The Friends star said the fact the public knew about his substance abuse issues made it easier to become a spokesperson for addiction recovery.

In 2013, he founded Perry House, a sober living facility for men, which he ran out of his old Malibu beach home until 2015.

Weeks before his death, Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman recalled that Perry was doing “great”. “He was happy and chipper. He didn’t seem weighed down by anything. He was in a really good place, which is why this seems so unfair,” she told Hoda Kotb during a recent appearance on the TODAY show.

“He seemed better than I had seen in a while. I was so thrilled to see that. He was emotionally in a good place, he looked good, he quit smoking,” she added.

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.

In the US, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration can be reached at 1-800-662-HELP.