Matthew Perry died on 28th October at the age of 54. And after more than a month, his cause of death has finally been revealed.
Perry’s death was revealed in his autopsy report, which was acquired by People. The cause was listed as acute effects of ketamine. Additionally, drowning, coronary artery disease, and buprenorphine effects (a medication used to treat opioid use disorder) were also listed as contributing factors in his death, which was ruled accidental.
According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration, ketamine is a “dissociative anesthetic that has some hallucinogenic effects. It “distorts the perception of sight and sound and makes the user feel disconnected and not in control,” and “can induce a state of sedation (feeling calm and relaxed), immobility, relief from pain, and amnesia.”
The report that was acquired by People also confirms that Perry had indeed been clean for 19 months before his death. He was on ketamine infusion therapy, whereby his final treatment was done one week before his death. However, the coroner noted that “the ketamine in his system at death could not be from that infusion therapy, since ketamine’s half-life is 3 to 4 hours or less.”
The report goes deeper into the cause of death, stating that it might have occurred by “unknown route of drug intake.” His body was discovered in a residential pool with evidence of prescription medications and loose pills present at his abode. However, the same were not located near or “adjacent” to the pool. Additionally, his autopsy report affirmed that there were “no signs of fatal trauma or no foul play suspected.”
The coroner states in the report, “At the high levels of ketamine found in his postmortem blood specimens, the main lethal effects would be from both cardiovascular overstimulation and respiratory depression,” adding, “Drowning contributes due to the likelihood of submersion into the pool as he lapsed into unconsciousness.”
Prior to his sudden death, the actor who played ‘Chandler’ on the 90s sitcom Friends openly spoke about his struggles with years of addiction. However, in his memoir Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, which he published in 2022, he recounted his journey to sobriety — and the pride of staying clean. On the 2022 cover story, he told People Magazine, “I wanted to share when I was safe from going into the dark side again,” adding, “I had to wait until I was pretty safely sober—and away from the active disease of alcoholism and addiction—to write it all down. I was pretty certain that it would help people if I did.”
His role as Chandler got him worldwide fame and turned him into a household name. Throughout his career, he spoke highly of the role that brought him — and fellow cast members Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, and David Schwimmer — viral fame. He previously told People, “It changed my life in every way. I got the show when I was a 24-year-old man; the show ended when I was 34. It formed my life. And it was the time of my life.”
He also opened up about how his cast members supported him throughout his addiction struggles. He said, “They were understanding, and they were patient,” adding, “It’s like penguins. In nature, when one is sick or very injured, the other penguins surround it and prop it up and walk around until that penguin can walk on its own. And that’s kind of what the cast did for me.”
Disclaimer: If you are suffering from substance abuse or know someone who is, please contact the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.