Matthew Perry Cause of Death Revealed to Be ‘Acute Effects of Ketamine’

The “Friends” star was found dead in a hot tub at his Los Angeles home in late October

Matthew Perry (Credit: Getty Images)

“Friends” star Matthew Perry was found to have had “acute effects of ketamine” in his system after falling unconscious in a hot tub at his Los Angeles house and drowning, according to an autopsy from the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s Office. The autopsy attributes his death to the ketamine’s effects and drowning, ruling it an accident.

Perry died Oct. 28 at the age of 54. The initial cause of death was ruled to be apparent drowning after he was found in a hot tub at his Los Angeles home. Other factors, including coronary artery disease and impacts of the opioid buprenorphine — used to treat opioid use disorder — also played a role in the actor’s death, according to the autopsy report filed Friday.

The actor was undergoing ketamine infusion therapy at the time of his death, for depression and anxiety, but his last recorded treatment was a week-and-a-half prior. The levels of ketamine in his body were above what he should have had from the treatment, as the drug’s half-life is less than four hours. He had reportedly been sober for 19 months at the time of his death. Perry also tested negative for alcohol and other drug use.

According to the autopsy, the high levels of ketamine in his system that could be lethal would have been caused an overstimulated heart and slowed/shallow breathing. It notes that it is unknown the exact method that Perry had used to take the ketamine found in his system.

The heart disease contributed to his cause of death due to ketamine’s effects on the heart, while the buprenorphine contributed due to its effects on breathing in combination with ketamine, according to the autopsy.

Drugs were not found near the pool/hot tub area of his home, according to the report and foul play was not suspected. Prescription medications and loose pills were found elsewhere in his home.

The autopsy summarizes ketamine’s effects, describing it as “a dissociative anesthetic with established human medical and surgical uses. Also, it is used in recreational drug use and other illicit settings, mainly due to its ‘dissociative’ nature, indicating disconnection of mind from body. It also can have short duration hallucinatory and psychedelic effects. This latter effect explains its use in nightclub/party/rave culture.”

When used recreationally, the drug is also known as “Special K.”

Authorities found Perry in the pool area at around 4 p.m. PT on Oct. 28, the Los Angeles Times reports. Per TMZ, first responders received a call for a cardiac arrest.

Perry was open about his battle for sobriety over the years. In his 2022 memoir, “Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing,” he revealed that “Friends” costar Jennifer Aniston confronted him about his drinking while the pair worked together.

“‘How can you tell?’ I said. I never worked drunk. ‘I’ve been trying to hide it,’” he shared, according to his book, before Aniston revealed that she and their castmates could smell the alcohol on him.

Perry also credited the show with changing his life in more ways than one. As he said, “They were understanding, and they were patient. It could be said that [doing the show] saved me.”

Perry is best known for his role as Chandler Bing on “Friends.” He played the character for all 10 seasons of the NBC sitcom from 1994-2004 and starred in each of its 234 episodes, as well as appearing in its 2021 reunion special. Additional credits included “Ally McBeal,” “Home Free,” “The West Wing” and the movies “Fools Rush In” and “The Whole Nine Yards.”

Stephanie Kaloi and Jeremy Bailey contributed to this report.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.