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Matthew Perry ‘must have taken’ as much ketamine as a surgical patient: Expert


The autopsy report of ‘Friends’ star Matthew Perry revealed that he had a lethal dose of ketamine in his system, which is comparable to the amount of general anesthesia given to patients undergoing surgery.

(FILES) 'Friends' actor Matthew Perry died as a result of "the acute effects of ketamine," the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner's office said December 15, 2023. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)(AFP)
(FILES) ‘Friends’ actor Matthew Perry died as a result of “the acute effects of ketamine,” the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s office said December 15, 2023. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)(AFP)

Ketamine is a powerful drug that can induce a “trance” state in users, making them vulnerable to accidents and injuries, especially if they are near water.

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Perry, who was 54 years old and had a history of addiction, was discovered dead in his hot tub in October.

“He really did himself in. He must have taken a large amount. You don’t do this and go swimming or go into a pool of any sort,” said Dr. Philip Wolfson, a leading authority on ketamine and the author of ‘The Ketamine Papers: Science, Therapy and Transformation.’ Wolfson, who is the director of the Center for Transformational Psychotherapy in San Anselmo, CA., quoted to The New York Post on Saturday. {Wolfson was not involved in Perry’s treatment.}

ALSO READ| Matthew Perry death mystery solved, autopsy confirms he had ‘recreational’ drugs

‘Ketamine…..doesn’t stop your breathing’

Another expert, Dr. Angelique Campen, an emergency room physician at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, told CBS News that ketamine can be dangerous when used recreationally.

“What I foresee happened with him is, what it does is put you in kind of a trance state, so he probably was in the hot tub in a trance state, slipped under the water and drowned,” she said.

“So, the ketamine in and of itself doesn’t stop your breathing, but it can keep you from waking up if you are submerged.”

Some users of ketamine experience a state of paralysis and dissociation, known as the “k-hole,” but it is unclear if Perry was in that condition when he died.

The toxicology results showed that Perry had 3,540 ng/ml of ketamine in his peripheral blood source and 3,271 ng/ml in his central blood source. He also had coronary artery disease and buprenorphine, a medication for opioid addiction, in his system, but the main cause of his death was the “acute effects of the anesthetic ketamine,” according to the report. There was no alcohol detected in his body. Deaths from ketamine overdose are uncommon, according to American Addiction Centers.

ALSO READ| Matthew Perry revealed ketamine made him think he was ‘dying’ in his 2022 memoir

Ketamine has been used as a therapy for drug addiction and depression, under medical supervision and in controlled settings. However, the drug has a short half-life and leaves the body quickly, and Perry’s last session was about 10 days before his death.

Some celebrities, such as Chrissy Teigen, Sharon Osbourne, Lamar Odom, and Pete Davidson, have praised ketamine for its antidepressant effects. Ketamine is “generally really safe,” said Dr. Michael Bottros, the chief of clinical operations and medical director for pain services with Keck Medicine of USC, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.


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