Matthew Perry is opening up about his addiction struggle – and the importance of giving back to the community during his ongoing sobriety.
“You can’t have a drug problem for 30 years and then expect to have it be solved in 28 days,” the former Friends star, 46, told The Hollywood Reporter in a video for Phoenix House, a California-based treatment center.
“At Phoenix House, I was very moved by the hope that I saw there, which is what this is all about,” says Perry, who currently stars in The Odd Couple on CBS. “Getting sober is a really hard thing to do.”
In June, the treatment center presented Perry with the 2015 Phoenix Rising Award, although the actor modestly laughed off the honor.
“I’m an award-winning alcoholic, he told THR. “I shouldn’t be getting an award; Phoenix House should be getting an award.”
Perry was 24 when he landed his role as Chandler Bing on Friends, the beloved sitcom that would eventually pay the actor a salary that reached $1 million an episode.
Perry opened up to PEOPLE in 2013, detailing his years-long battle with alcohol and Vicodin: “I couldn’t stop,” he said. “Eventually things got so bad that I couldn’t hide it, and then everybody knew.”
“I’m a pretty private person, but I was on a TV show that 30 million people were watching, so people knew,” Perry reiterated in the recent THR video. “It was so public what was happening to me.”
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“Treatment centers are important because they sort of separate the addict from their environment where they were using,” continues Perry. “They’re not the finished product though – you have to follow up with a lot of hard work afterwards.”
For Perry, that hard work involves helping others struggling with the same issues.
“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,” says Perry, who also told the trade publication he’s currently in the process of relocating his own sober-living facility, the Perry House, from Malibu to Santa Monica or Studio City.
According to Perry, he uses his notoriety to help fellow addicts in their journey toward sobriety as much as possible.
“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my life. I’ve learned a lot from my failures, but the best thing about me is if an alcoholic comes up to me and says: ‘Can you help me stop drinking?’ I can say, ‘Yes,’ ” says the actor.
“Just the fact that I am out there talking about it, just the fact that I used to be on TV, makes people listen a little bit more,” he added. “So I take advantage of that.”