Actor Stock photos by Vecteezy
LOS ANGELES - JUL 17: Matthew Perry at the CBS TCA July 2014 Party at the Pacific Design Center on July 17, 2014 in West Hollywood, CA

Authorities Investigate Matthew Perry’s Ketamine-Induced Death

Melissa Finley
Melissa Finley Editorial Content Manager

On Oct. 28, 2023, actor Matthew Perry, of “Friends” sitcom fame, was found dead in his hot tub. Later autopsies found that it was the level of ketamine, a drug used to sometimes treat extreme depression, that was the ultimate cause of death.

While Perry, 54, was reportedly undergoing ketamine treatments with the supervision of a doctor to treat his depression. Ketamine infusions have seen a recent spike in popularity, being used to treat depression, anxiety, and chronic pain.

The authorities launched today’s investigation, which included the Los Angeles Police Department, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, to find out why a treatment, provided a week-and-a-half prior to his death, would have led to such high levels of the drug in his system. While the investigation’s specifics have not yet been released, reviews of Perry’s medical history, including other medications he was taking, will likely be included.

The corner reported that drowning and “other medical issues” were contributing factors to Perry’s death. Perry was also transparent during his life that he had previously had substance use disorders (SUD) which he was also receiving treatment for.

Ketamine is typically a drug metabolized in a matter of hours. Perry, who reportedly also suffered from coronary artery disease, may have had other contributing factors to his death, including a combination of other prescribed drugs found in his body, pre-existing medical conditions, and overheating due to temperatures in his hot tub.

“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,” Perry’s autopsy report stated, according to the New York Times.

Even when used appropriately, at the proper dosages, this drug can cause many harmful side effects. As a hallucinogen, the drug can induce feelings of panic, disconnection, and lack of control.

Ketamine’s side effects include:

  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Cognitive Difficulties
  • Unconsciousness
  • and Amnesia.

Experts also do not advise the use of sedative medications while in a hot tub, especially when alone.

Though it has been used for decades as a surgical drug, ketamine was only approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat depression in a nasal spray form in 2019. Typically delivered intravenously under a doctor’s supervision, the proper dosages should not induce complete unconsciousness during depression treatments. Today’ ketamine is only suggested for those with “treatment-resistant” depression.

Perry’s levels at time of death were very high—near the levels an anesthetist would administer during surgery. Read more on this controversial choice of depression treatment with MedShadow’s “Six Things to Know About Ketamine” here.

DISCLAIMER: MedShadow provides information and resources related to medications, their effects, and potential side effects. However, it is important to note that we are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The content on our site is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Individuals dealing with medical conditions or symptoms should seek guidance from a licensed healthcare professional, such as a physician or pharmacist, who can provide personalized medical advice tailored to their specific circumstances.

While we strive to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information presented on MedShadow, we cannot guarantee its completeness or suitability for any particular individual's medical needs. Therefore, we strongly encourage users to consult with qualified healthcare professionals regarding any health-related concerns or decisions. By accessing and using MedShadow, you acknowledge and agree that the information provided on the site is not a substitute for professional medical advice and that you should always consult with a qualified healthcare provider for any medical concerns.

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