The Fear of Permanently Wearing a Colostomy Bag Helped Matthew Perry Get Sober

The Fear of Permanently Wearing a Colostomy Bag Helped Matthew Perry Get Sober
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Paul Morigi

Friends actor Matthew Perry had experienced many brushes with death long before he passed on October 28 at 54. In fact, on one such hospitalization, an experience made Perry vow that he'd never use it again. Before his 2022 memoir was published, Matthew Perry gave a candid interview with PEOPLE in which he said that using a colostomy bag—an external bag used to keep feces—for a whole year, gave him a jolt of reality into beating his addiction.

Image Source: Getty Images | David M. Benett
Image Source: Getty Images | David M. Benett


The former Friends cast member disclosed that the "gastrointestinal perforation" he experienced in 2019 was the result of his colon rupturing due to opiate usage. The damage was so great that he spent two weeks in a coma, per PageSix. Perry said that he was hooked up to an ECMO machine that controlled his breathing and heartbeat and that his doctors had told his family he only had a two percent chance of survival.

Perry then remarked that the thought of having to wear a colostomy bag all the time was what motivated him to get sober. "I woke up and realized I had a colostomy bag," he recalls. "They said, 'It's all too messy down there. We can't do surgery. But in about a year you can reverse that.' It was pretty hellish having one because they break all the time."



When he talked to his therapist, he came to a strong resolution. "My therapist said, 'The next time you think about taking OxyContin, just think about having a colostomy bag for the rest of your life,'" he added. "And a little window opened, and I crawled through it, and I no longer want OxyContin."

Perry said he felt that he'd been given a chance people don't often get. Referencing his health troubles that led to the colostomy bag, he said, "Every doctor says it's a Hail Mary. No one survives that. So the big question is why? Why was I the one that survived? There has to be some kind of reason."



The Whole Nine Yards actor claims he was able to overcome alcoholism following an encounter in which he felt God in his kitchen. He went into great depth about the experience in his memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing. "It was this bright yellow object that became all-encompassing. I couldn't see the kitchen anymore," he recalls. "It was just this light, and I felt loved and understood, and in the company of God or whatever. My dad was right next to me and we were holding hands and I was praying when it started, which is something I rarely did. It was like God showed me what's possible. And then said, 'Okay. Now you go learn this.'"



Editor's note: This article was originally published on October 30, 2023. It has since been updated.

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