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Matthew Perry's Legacy: Addiction and Recovery, Not Just 'Friends'

Matthew Perry's Legacy: Addiction and Recovery, Not Just 'Friends'
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Matthew Perry leaves behind a legacy that goes far beyond the hit '90s sitcom Friends.

Beloved addiction recovery advocate and Friends actor Matthew Perry died at the age of 54 on Saturday in his Los Angeles home of an apparent drowning, leaving a legacy that goes far beyond the hit '90s sitcom.

Los Angeles Fire Capt. Erik Scott said in a statement earlier this week that responders found, “an adult male unconscious in a stand-alone hot tub ... A rapid medical assessment, sadly, revealed the man was deceased prior to first responder arrival.”

The Los Angeles County medical examiner is holding off on giving a cause of death until toxicology results are received, which the medical examiner’s office told NBC News can take up to four months.

Perry was an actor known for his beloved role as the sarcastic Chandler Bing on the ‘90s sitcom Friends. His cast-mates have released a statement following his untimely death, calling it “an unfathomable loss” that has left them “utterly devastated.”

Matthew Perry dead at 54

“We were more than just cast mates. We are a family,” Courtney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer said in a joint statement. “There is so much to say, but right now we’re going to take a moment to grieve and process this unfathomable loss. In time we will say more, as and when we are able. For now, our thoughts and our love are with Matty’s family, his friends, and everyone who loved him around the world.”

Perry was also known for being open about his struggle with addiction. He became a spokesman for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, and in 2013, Perry turned his Malibu home into a sober living house that ran for two years. In the same year, he received the Champion of recovery award from the White House Office of National Drug Control Police.

Perry shared his battle with alcohol and opioid addiction after releasing his memoir Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing last year. It detailed his journey with addiction and rehab, as well as his near-death experience in 2019 after his colon burst due to opioid use.

Last year, while promoting the memoir in an interview on the Q with Tom Power podcast, Perry stated that he didn't want to be remembered for his Friendslegacy after his death.

“The best thing about me, bar none, is if somebody comes up to me and says: ‘I can’t stop drinking. Can you help me?’ I can say yes and follow up and do it. And I’ve said for a long time: When I die, I don’t want Friends to be the first thing that’s mentioned – I want that to be the first thing that’s mentioned. And I’m going to live the rest of my life proving that,” Perry said.

For many, he did just that. Perry helped actor and comedian Hank Azaria, who also appeared on Friends, get sober, which Azaria shared on Instagram.

“I’m a sober guy for 17 years. The night I went into AA, Matthew brought me in. The whole first year I was sober, we went to meetings together,” Azaria said. “As a sober person, he was so caring and giving and wise, and he totally helped me get sober.”

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Kylie Werner