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“I had a 2 percent chance to live”: Matthew Perry details brush with death from addiction in new memoir

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Flatiron Books

Friends veteran star Matthew Perry is opening up about his decades-long battle with addiction in hopes of inspiring others with his new memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing.

The actor tells People, “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.”

The book, which hits stores November 1, reveals for the first time how addiction nearly cost the 53-year-old star his life at age 49. His colon burst from opioid abuse, Perry reveals, requiring extensive gastrointestinal surgeries.

He recalls, “The doctors told my family that I had a 2 percent chance to live. I was put on a thing called an ECMO machine, which does all the breathing for your heart and your lungs. And that’s called a Hail Mary. No one survives that.” He later said he was one of four people put on that machine that day who lived to tell the tale.

Perry also details how bad his drinking and opioid addiction was, noting at one point during Friends‘ run, he was taking 55 pills a day and was down to 128 pounds.

He explains he had points of sobriety in the show’s run, too, noting, “Season 9 was the year that I was sober the whole way through. And guess which season I got nominated for best actor? I was like, ‘That should tell me something.'”

Perry said his caring castmates were there to “prop him up,” likening them to penguins. “[I]n nature, when one is sick…They walk around it until that penguin can walk on its own,” he said. “That’s kind of what the cast did for me.”

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