Matthew Perry is lucky to be alive.
The Friends star, 53, details his struggles with opioid and alcohol addiction in his new memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, which comes out Nov. 1. He spoke to People magazine about his revelations, including that he was given a "2% chance to live" just four years ago when was on life support.
In 2018, Perry, then 49, spent months in the hospital recovering from surgery from what his publicist said was a gastrointestinal perforation. However, his book details how he was actually in the fight of his life after his colon burst from opioid abuse. He was in a coma for two weeks and on life support. In total, he spent five months in the hospital recovering and had to use a colostomy bag for nine months.
"The doctors told my family that I had a 2% chance to live," Perry told the outlet. "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 did, adding another alarming statistic, "There were five people put on an ECMO machine that night and the other four died and I survived. So the big question is why? Why was I the one? There has to be some kind of reason." And that has prompted the star, best known for playing lovable Chandler Bing to tell his story.
A former child star, he joined the cast of Friends at age 24 when his alcohol addiction was starting. By the time he was 34 — around the time the show was ending — "I was really entrenched in a lot of trouble." At one point, he was taking 55 Vicodin a day and was down to 128 pounds.
"I didn't know how to stop," he admitted. "If the police came over to my house and said, 'If you drink tonight, we're going to take you to jail,' I'd start packing. I couldn't stop because the disease and the addiction is progressive. So it gets worse and worse as you grow older." He added that there were some sober points during Friends, including the entirety of Season 9, which resulted in an Emmy nomination for Best Actor.
He said his castmates — Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer — were protective of him as he struggled.
"It's like penguins. Penguins, in nature, when one is sick, or when one is very injured, the other penguins surround it and prop it up," he said. "They walk around it until that penguin can walk on its own. That's kind of what the cast did for me."
Perry said he did 15 stints in rehab over the years and had 14 surgeries on his stomach. He won't publicly share how long he's been sober, as it's changed, but he counts it each day.
He says the scars across his stomach from the surgeries are "a lot of reminders to stay sober. All I have to do is look down." And having to use a colostomy for nine months is also a deterrent.
"My therapist said, 'The next time you think about taking Oxycontin, just think about having a colostomy bag for the rest of your life,'" Perry recalled. "And a little window opened and I crawled through it and I no longer want Oxycontin anymore."
Perry said he's an "extremely grateful guy. I'm grateful to be alive, that's for sure" and his book is "filled with hope — because here I am." He felt OK writing about it now because he's "pretty safely sober and away from the active disease of alcoholism and addiction." However, the nitty gritty of it all will likely shock his long-time fans.
"I think they'll be surprised at how bad it got at certain times and how close to dying I came," he said. "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."