We Totally Underestimated 'Friends' Star Matthew Perry!

The actor has dedicated much of his time in the last few years to helping others who suffer from addiction

If you had asked us yesterday, "What has Matthew Perry been up to since Friends?", we would have named a few short-lived TV shows and mentioned that he's dating Lizzy Caplan. Turns out we didn't know the half of it.

In a new cover story for People, the former Chandler Bing talks about his new sober living facility, and his work advocating for recovering addicts. Perry himself, as you may already know, is a recovering alcohol and pill abuser. The problem didn't start during his Friends years, but that's when it spiraled out of control.

"I was on Friends from age 24 to 34. I was in the white-hot flame of fame," he tells the magazine. "The six of us were just everywhere all the time. From an outsider's perspective, it would seem like I had it all. It was actually a very lonely time for me because I was suffering from alcoholism."

Though he swears he was never high while shooting the classic sitcom, Perry says he was often "painfully, painfully hung over." It "got so bad I couldn't hide it," he recalls, and "then everybody knew." On top of the drinking, there were prescription pain medications, which Perry started taking following a 1997 jet ski accident.

"I couldn't stop," Perry says now. The 43-year-old actor went through rehab twice and is now sober. He's also dedicated most of his time to helping other people with the same demons. Most impressively, he's converted his own house into a sober living center for men in recovery.

"I was a hopelessly narcissistic guy, and I only thought about myself, and then that just shifted, and when that happened, I got some true happiness and comfort in my life," he explains. "When I die, I'd like Friends to be listed behind helping people."

Perry has even testified before Congress and lobbied on behalf of drug courts, where nonviolent drug offenders can serve time in rehab rather than jail. We're floored by Perry's honesty and his personal dedication to the cause -- especially because we had no idea. Did you?

Donna Kaufman is a freelance writer and iVillage contributor. Find her on Twitter and Google+

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