“I should be dead,” Matthew Perry wrote in the prologue of his memoir ‘Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing’, published last year. In the book, which he dedicated to “all of the sufferers out there”, the ‘Friends’ star talked about drug abuse and alcoholism and described going through detox dozens of times and spending millions of dollars in repeated attempts to get sober.
The prologue talks about his time living in a sober living house in Southern California. “This was no surprise – I have lived half my life in one form or another in a treatment centre or sober living house. Which is fine when you are twenty-four years old, less fine when you are forty-two years old. Now I was forty-nine, still struggling to get this monkey off my back,” he wrote.
The title of the book sums up his incredible highs and shattering lows and the “big terrible thing” in his life: “My addiction being my best friend and my punisher and my lover, all in one. My big terrible thing”.
“Alcoholism, addiction – you call it what you want, I have chosen to call it a Big Terrible Thing”.
In his heartbreakingly beautiful memoir, he also recalled his time during the filming of ‘Friends’ – both sober and otherwise – among other things.
Perry wrote his addiction trajectory could be tracked by his weight on the smash hit TV sitcom: “When I’m carrying weight, it’s alcohol; when I’m skinny, it’s pills. When I have a goatee, it’s lots of pills.”
Season 9 was the only season he was fully sober which was also the time that he was nominated for an Emmy.
He wrote in his book that at one point, he was taking 55 Vicodin a day, and had to try various ploys in order to get them. He would “fake migraines or other pain, and sit through MRIs with different doctors”. On Sundays, he’d go to open houses and search the medicine cabinets of different homes for any pills he could find, he wrote.
For his addiction to Vicodin, methadone, and amphetamines, the actor attended 6,000 AA meetings, gone to rehab 15 times, was in detox 65 times, has been on life support and has spent between $7-$9 million trying to get sober, Perry detailed in his book.
His ‘Friends’ cast – Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow and David Schwimmer – was supportive of him during this period, he wrote. First Aniston, and later, others approached him and told them they knew what was going on with him, he said.
“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,” he wrote in his book. Matthew Perry was found dead at his home in Los Angeles on Saturday. He was 54.