Need for fame leads to 65 rehab stints for 'Friends' star

The first time Matthew Perry went through detox, he was already as famous as a Beatle, thanks to his role as Chandler Bing on the culture-shifting 1990s sitcom Friends. He was also an addict, tormented by a long list of demons that eventually included Vicodin (55 pills a day, at his low point), alcohol, cocaine, Xanax, and Suboxone. He went on to detox 65 more times, he estimates, spending millions of dollars and half of his ruined life in treatment facilities.

Friends lasted 10 seasons, and Perry was spiraling for most of them, according to his new memoir, the grimly funny, mostly unvarnished, and frequently proctological Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing. His struggles played out in front of millions of viewers every week. He writes, “You can track the trajectory of my addiction if you gauge my weight from season to season — 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.”

The book arrives at a strange time, as our understanding of addiction grows and our tolerance for the problems of rich white men shrinks. It’s both a conventional memoir and an account of the dire events of 2018, when Perry’s colon exploded, a presumed side effect of his opiate use. He fell into a coma; his family was told he had a 2 percent chance of survival. He spent five months in the hospital, and nine months with a colostomy bag and endured countless surgeries, a harrowing ordeal recounted in minute detail. By page 11, readers will become intimately familiar with the contents of Perry’s gastrointestinal tract.

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