Matthew Perry is known for his ability to make audiences laugh from his iconic role as Chandler Bing on Friends to his most recent role as Oscar Madison on The Odd Couple, but to alcoholics and drug addicts currently in recovery, Mr. Perry means so much more.
Perry just received the Phoenix House’s 2015 Phoenix Rising Award. Phoenix House, a nonprofit drug and alcohol rehabilitation organization, has done more for Matthew than he could ever have hoped. In addition to helping Perry get sober and remain that way, the organization has also been instrumental in helping Matthew set up his own sober living establishment, named Perry House.
“I’m an award-winning alcoholic, I guess,” Mr. Perry joked in an interview with the The Hollywood Reporter. “I shouldn’t be getting an award; Phoenix House should be getting an award.”
Mr. Perry is in the process of relocating his own facility to either Santa Monica or Studio City, but a stop off at Phoenix House is always a necessary reminder for Matthew of how far he has come and how easy it might be fall, as seen in the eyes of those struggling to get to the level of recovery Perry himself has already achieved.
“Getting sober is a really hard thing to do, and I saw hope on the faces of the kids. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my life and a lot of wonderful accolades,” Matthew said, “but the best thing about me is that if an alcoholic comes up to me and says, ‘Will you help me stop drinking?’ I will say, ‘Yes. I know how to do that.'”
Matthew Perry recognizes that his fame has been a hindrance in his own efforts to maintain sobriety, but Mr. Perry now sees that his celebrity status can now be used to help others.
“When I was in big trouble, it was so public because I was on a TV show that 30 million people were watching,” he explained. “The fact that I [am] on TV makes people listen a little bit more, so I take advantage of that from time to time.”
“When you’re having a bad day, call somebody and ask them how they’re doing and actually pay attention and listen to the answer,” Matthew said of programs like the Phoenix House.
Mr. Perry warns that there are no instant successes, however. He says that anyone hoping for that kind of an overnight result is in for a big disappointment.
“You can’t have a drug problem for 30 years and then expect have it be solved in 28 days,” said Perry.
[Featured image: Matthew Perry courtesy of Jason Kempin/Getty Images]