After battling drug addiction and alcoholism for more than a decade, Matthew Perry is now clean, sober, and ready to start giving back to those facing similar troubles.
"I was on Friends from age 24 to 34. I was in the white-hot flame of fame," he says in the new issue of People magazine. "The six of us were just everywhere all the time. From an outsider's perspective, it would seem like I had it all. It was actually a very lonely time for me because I was suffering from alcoholism," said Perry. "It was going on before Friends, but it's a progressive disease."
"I was never high at work. I was painfully hung over. Then eventually things got so bad I couldn't hide it and everybody knew," he admitted.
Perry is passionately working to improve addiction recovery - in particular focusing on funding for drug courts and urging treatment over jail time for nonviolent offenders. In an article this past May on WhiteHouse.gov, the 43-year-old, who has testified many times before Congress on the importance of drug courts, explained their role in the recovery process.
"The Nation’s more than 2,700 drug courts treat the disease of addiction instead of incarcerating those who are struggling with it. Research has shown that drug courts are one of the most effective ways to keep people out of jails and prison, reduce crime, and save money. In fact, 75 percent of drug court graduates remain arrest-free at least two years after leaving the program, and studies examining long-term outcomes of individual drug courts have found that reductions in crime last at least 3 years and can endure for over 14 years."
What makes Perry's devotion to the cause even more impressive is his latest gesture of support called The Perry House. The actor converted his former four-bedroom Malibu home overlooking the Pacific into a rehab center for men. Up to seven individuals can take advantage of the private residence and participate in 12-step workshops, meditation, hiking, and others means of therapeutic support.
"Matthew is an ambassador of possibility for a vast group of people," addiction specialist Earl Hightower, who runs The Perry House, told the magazine. "People he'll never meet will get services because he championed their cause."
Perry, who adds he hopes to get married soon and one day have kids, says that this work is what currently makes him the happiest. "When I die, I'd like 'Friends' to be listed behind helping people," he said.
The People issue with Perry hits newsstands on July 5. You can listen to Perry voice his support for drug courts below.