'People like you keep me alive.' A letter to Matthew Perry, from a recovering addict.

This story mentions struggles of addiction.

Dear Matthew Perry

We never met in person. Ironically, we once nearly met at a bar in LA many years ago, but I ended up being too drunk to leave my swanky hotel room and heard from friends that you’d been there the next morning. Gutted. 

I, like you, lost decades of my life to the hideous disease of addiction that I didn’t know I had.

From one addict to another, I want to say a heartfelt thank you for sharing your story and the reality of years of pain with such honesty and bravery.

Watch: Remembering Matthew Perry. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

You were as courageous in smashing the stigma around addiction as you were talented with a script.

You were living proof that addiction does not discriminate. 

You sat on a stage, in an auditorium filled with eager ears, and described the peculiar mental twist and allergy that takes over in an addict.

You showed the world that if “that guy from Friends” can be hooked on 55 pills a day, it is not a choice. Addicts are not weak.


Addiction is a disease that some of us have and we can’t “just stop”. If we could “just say no” we wouldn’t have to go to 9,000 AA meetings, as you rightly joked.

Addiction is cunning, baffling and powerful; and while addicts themselves know this to their core, the world wasn’t ready to listen.

You showed that alcohol did not care that you were on Friends and fame could not protect you. 

You were proof that the American dream can’t fix addiction; having dreams fulfilled is not the answer. 

The terrible truth is that alcoholism and addiction want you sick, they want you alone, and then they want to kill you. 

And, even with all the money in the world at your disposal, the very best rehabs in the world are still not a quick and easy fix. 

You showed the world all of this, and in doing so you made life a teeny tiny bit gentler for addicts like me.  

To me, this is your greatest achievement, not all the awards or accolades.

I hope you can now see the huge impact you’ve had on many people like me that has little to do with Friends

Yes, like millions of others, I loved Chandler Bing. I had the entire box set of videos and, in my twenties, when my hellish first marriage was falling apart, I watched the show for comfort. For those awful few years, you made me laugh when life felt dark and unbearable. 

My first marriage, much like my second, fell apart partly because of my addiction. I drowned in addiction for 23 years and have been in recovery for eight. People like you keep me alive, one day at a time.


When I sat on the train reading your memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing last year, I found myself having to disguise quiet tears that started to fall. 

Listen: In November 2022, Mia, Holly and Jessie recorded a special subscriber episode about a celebrity memoir that was far from the norm. Post continues below.

Your dedication in that memoir reads, “For all the sufferers out there. You know who you are.”

Those 12 words alone gave me goosebumps. That’s connection – and it keeps people’s hearts beating.

I found myself underlining so much that I resonated with that my copy of your memoir is a mess - I love that. 

I felt as much at home reading your words about your struggles with addiction as watching you on screen. 

That’s the thing about addicts; there’s nothing quite like the trauma, the years of nightmarish suffering, that bonds us like powerful cement. Most people have not, as you write, “battled their entire lives with a brain that was built to kill them.” Most people don’t live in “raw fear” feeling for certain “I was going to die”.

Your ability to make me laugh in my twenties was matched with the connection I felt to you writing about addiction in my forties.

You once said, “When I die, I know people will talk about Friends, Friends, Friends. And I’m glad of that, happy I’ve done some solid work as an actor, as well as given people multiple chances to make fun of my struggles on the world wide web… but when I die, as far as my so-called accomplishments go, it would be nice if Friends were listed far behind the things I did to try to help other people. I know it won’t happen, but it would be nice.”


Dearest Matthew, it’s happening. 

You’ve done it. 

You’ve made addiction part of a global, mainstream conversation.

Towards the end of your book, you wrote, “God is everywhere – you just have to clear your channel, or you’ll miss it.”

We’re still tuning in, my friend. 

And your legacy is saving lives.

Rest in peace.

Corrine Barraclough is a freelance writer, you can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

If this post brought up any issues for you, you can contact Drug Aware, Australia's 24hr alcohol and drug support line. You can reach them on (08) 9442 5000 or 1800 198 024. 

For families and carers supporting addicts, you can find help and guidance here. If you are worried about a loved one you can reach out to the Family Drug Support 24-hour phone line on 1300 368 186.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you’re based in Australia, please contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue 1300 22 4636.

Feature Image: Getty.