Matthew Perry, best known for playing the sarcastic yet loveable Chandler Bing on Friends, is opening up about his past struggles with alcohol and drug addiction.

Perry, 44, admits to having battled with alcoholism prior to joining the cast of Friends at 24. His prescription pill addiction, according to the actor, began in 1997 following a jet ski accident that left him with a bottle of pain killers prescribed by a doctor. The physician had said, "'Here, take this," Perry told People magazine. "I did and I felt better than I ever felt in my entire life,” he continued. “I had a big problem with pills and alcohol, and I couldn't stop."

During his 10 years with Friends, Perry, like the rest of the cast, became incredibly famous – and incredibly rich, earning $1 million an episode. Though Perry appeared to “have it all,” he was privately suffering. "I was on Friends from age 24 to 34. I was in the white-hot flame of fame,” he said. “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."

Although Perry tried to hide his problems with addiction, his costars – Jennifer Anniston, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow and David Schwimmer – all eventually saw that he was struggling. "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. While on Friends, Perry entered rehab twice to try to curb his addictions.

While Perry continues to work as an actor, he’s taken on another vocation as an advocate for rehab for nonviolent drug offenders. The Go On star has put his money where his mouth his, turning his Malibu mansion into a sober-living house, and has both testified before Congress and lobbied politicians on behalf of his cause.

Perry’s full interview about his experiences in Hollywood as an addict will be in the July 5 issue of People.

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