Friends star Matthew Perry dies aged 54
Tragic comedy icon Matthew Perry’s friends and TV co-stars have been “devastated – but not surprised” that drugs were found in his body, a long-time Hollywood associate said last night.
The senior source added, however: “Everyone who knew him well shares the belief that his official cause of death can never detract from the love he showed countless other addicts who recovered because of his help.
“Matty battled addiction almost his entire adult life, yo-yoing in and out of rehab.
“But he never let his own suffering stop him giving his time and support to strangers in AA, often welcoming them into his own home when they were at their lowest.
“You couldn’t help but love him and the way he went into battle for others despite his own problems. Those who were close and devastated but, sad to say, not surprised.”
Read more: Matthew Perry had near-death experience taking ketamine before it caused death
A toxicology report revealed on Friday that Perry – whose body was found in the backyard hot tub at his mansion in LA’s Pacific Palisades on October 28 – died at the age of 54 from the “acute effects of ketamine” and drowning.
Traces of buprenorphine, a drug used to treat opioid addiction, were also in his system.
Ketamine was developed in the 1960s as a human and animal anaesthetic but today is prescribed as a treatment for severe depression as well as being used recreationally as a psychedelic party drug.
Ironically, the actor said the powerful drug “made me think I was dying” when he was first given infusions of it in a Swiss rehab clinic around the start of the pandemic.
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In his book Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, published last year, he wrote: “Taking K is like being hit over the head with a giant happy shovel.
“But the hangover was rough and outweighed the shovel.” Later, however, he felt ketamine helped with his pain and depression.
Last week, the Canadian-born actor’s Friends co-star Jennifer Aniston – who tearfully joined fellow castmates at Perry’s funeral at LA’s famous Forest Lawn Memorial Park on November 3 – described him as “happy” and “healthy” in his final days.
She told Variety magazine: “I was literally texting with him that morning – funny Matty. He was not in pain. He wasn’t struggling. He was happy.” She added: “He was on a pursuit. He worked so hard. He really was dealt a tough one.”
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A drug and alcohol recovery expert has joined those calling for Perry’s towering legacy “not to be torn down” as a result of the toxicology findings.
Sean Daniels, a successful playwright who also runs the Recovery Project for long-term addicts at Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota, declared: “More people will get help because of his bravery. Fewer people will die.”
Perry received a Champion of Recovery award in May 2013 from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy for opening Perry House, a rehab center in his former Malibu mansion that has since relocated.
His years of personal drug and alcohol abuse were sadly also reflected in Friday’s autopsy findings released by the LA County Medical Examiner’s Office.
His alcohol-damaged liver showed he suffered from chronic hepatic congestion, a precursor to cirrhosis of the liver. The tissue in his kidneys had also hardened as a result of long-term drug use and his pancreas had been severely damaged, most likely by opioid use.
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