Matthew Perry + Treatment Resistant Therapy
Matthew Langford Perry was an American and Canadian actor best known for his role as Chandler Bing on the hit television sitcom Friends. Perry was described as a brilliant actor but an even more brilliant human. However, it was no secret that Perry was struggling with addiction and depression behind the scenes. He was very open about his addiction, hoping that being honest about what he was going through would help someone dealing with something similar. Perry’s weight fluctuated a lot throughout the different seasons of Friends, raising a lot of concern from his audience. He mentioned that during the season three finale he was scarily thin due to the fifty-five Vicodin a day he was taking. Perry’s addiction to alcohol and opioids began long before his career with Friends, and he did not shy away from talking about his struggles. In November of 2022 he released his memoir titled, “Friends, Lovers, and the Terrible Big Thing: A Memoir.” Perry was not a huge fan of secrecy, he once said in an interview with the New York Times, “[secrecy] suggests that there’s a stigma and that we have to hide. This is not a popular opinion, by the way”. In his memoir, he mentions that as much as he is grateful for the life Friends gave him, he didn’t want to be remembered for that. He wanted to be remembered as someone who helped to combat the stigma around addiction.
Millions of people struggle with addiction every day. There are countless treatments for addiction, ranging from 12-step programs, Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), inpatient and outpatient rehabs, to various behavioral therapies. Matthew Perry spent up to $9 million on different treatments for both addiction and depression. Before his death on October 28, 2023, he was undergoing Ketamine Therapy.
Ketamine Therapy is a medical treatment that involves the use of ketamine, a dissociative anesthetic, for therapeutic purposes. Ketamine is a compound that has many potential benefits for the treatment of different mental disorders, however it is often misused because of its trance-like state and ability to produce an out-of-body experience. Developing a dependency or consuming high amounts of it can produce near-death effects. Ketamine therapy is often used to treat treatment-resistant depression (TRD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, and chronic pain conditions. Because ketamine can easily be misused, ketamine therapy must be administered under the supervision of trained medical professionals in a controlled environment. The number of sessions, as well as the frequency, vary based on the individual and their condition. Ketamine therapy has been proven to reduce suicidal thoughts, to have a rapid onset of action, to improve speech, reduce chronic pain, and encourage personal transformation. Another potential benefit is that it has a low risk of physical dependence. However, should ketamine therapy be recommended to individuals with a history of substance abuse?
MeRT and TMS
As discussed, Matthew Perry had been undergoing ketamine therapy prior to his death. His last session was a one and a half weeks prior, and they knew ketamine’s half-life is only 3-4 hours. As a result, they concluded that the session could not have contributed to his death. However, ketamine was found in his system at the time of death, meaning that he must have gotten a hold of more ketamine and was using when he drowned at his Los Angeles home. Matthew Perry’s story should be a reminder that addiction and depression are life-long illnesses. You may be sober for a few years, but that does not mean you’re cured. There is less risk of relapse when you are not surrounded by or have easy access to abusable drugs. Brain stimulation treatments like Magnetic eResonance Therapy (MeRT) have become recognized as a beneficial treatment for depression and substance use disorder. MeRT is a form of brain stimulation that helps the parts of the brain that are not communicating as they should. It is a drug free, noninvasive, painless approach to treatment for those who struggle with substance use disorder, like Matthew Perry. This is not to discredit ketamine therapy, but to bring awareness to alternative treatment that is effective for substance abuse disorder. MeRT is effective in 70-90% of people with these disorders. It is very safe and not possible to abuse the treatment protocol.