How often does the drug lead to death?

By | December 19, 2023

Matthew Perry’s cause of death has been confirmed, weeks after he passed away unexpectedly.

The “Friends” star died from acute effects of ketamine, the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s Office said.

Matthew Perry’s cause of death

The 54-year-old actor’s cause of death was described as ‘acute effects of ketamine’. It was unclear how and why he took the ketamine.

“Factors contributing to Mr. Perry’s death include drowning, coronary artery disease and the effects of buprenorphine (used to treat opioid use disorder). The cause of death is an accident,” the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s Office said in a statement.

The autopsy report, obtained by NBC News, further explained that the ketamine likely caused Perry to become unconscious and drown, and that existing coronary artery disease worsened the ketamine’s effects on his heart.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a “dissociative anesthetic that has some hallucinogenic effects,” according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. It is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as an injectable, short-acting anesthetic for humans and animals.

Ketamine can also be used as a therapy for mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. It is also used recreationally “due to its ‘dissociative’ nature, which indicates a disconnection between body and mind,” the autopsy report said.

The effects it has on a person include a feeling of being disconnected from their environment and possible pain. It can also create a feeling of numbness and immobility.

How can ketamine lead to death?

When someone overdoses on ketamine, they can become unconscious and their breathing can slow to a dangerous degree, the DEA said.

The autopsy report explained that “at the high levels of ketamine found in (Perry’s) postmortem blood samples, the major lethal effects would result from both cardiovascular overstimulation and respiratory depression.”

“It’s easy to take too much (ketamine), more than you should,” said NBC News senior medical correspondent Dr. John Torres TODAY December 18. “If you do that, you’re going to have a rapid heart rate, your blood pressure is going to rise, you’re going to have a dissociation from your body that people describe as uncomfortable.”

“If you take too many anesthetics, you can get to the point where your breathing is depressed, you’re drowsy and unresponsive… and unfortunately, if you go underwater, you may not be.” can respond to that,” he continued.

That said, “It is rare to die from a ketamine overdose,” he added.

What is ketamine therapy?

Ketamine therapy is when the drug is used, usually through an IV, injection or inhalation, to treat mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety, TODAY previously reported. Torres added that some research shows it may also work for post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction.

Perry had written in his memoir about using ketamine therapy to help with mental illness. According to the autopsy report, his last known treatment before his death was a week and a half earlier.

A growing body of research shows that ketamine can be a powerful tool in treating depression that has not improved with other medications or therapies. It’s unclear how exactly ketamine can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety, but it likely works by boosting feel-good chemicals, similar to traditional antidepressants, and by helping form new pathways in the brain to engage in new thought patterns and behaviors. encourage, Mike Dow, Ph.D., a psychotherapist from the Field Trip ketamine clinic in Los Angles previously told TODAY.

How did Matthew Perry die?

Perry’s cause of death was due to “acute effects of ketamine.” Ketamine is FDA-approved as an anesthetic, but can also be used recreationally and as a therapy for depression and anxiety.

Drowning and coronary artery disease also contributed to Perry’s death, according to the medical examiner.

Perry was found unconscious in a jacuzzi at his home in Pacific Palisades, California, on October 28. He was pronounced dead of an apparent drowning, authorities said.

The official cause of death was pending a toxicology report and further investigation, according to a report released Oct. 29 by the medical examiner’s office. In addition, the cause of death was listed as postponed on his death certificate.

When news of his death broke, two law enforcement sources had told NBC News that there were no obvious signs of trauma or foul play.

Has Matthew Perry relapsed?

The autopsy report did not specify whether Perry relapsed before his death. It did say that he had “reportedly been clean for 19 months” before he died.

Perry was on ketamine therapy and had his last known session a week and a half before he died. The autopsy report noted that, according to the medical examiner, the amount of ketamine found in his system could not have come from the therapy a week and a half earlier, as the drug has a half-life of up to three to four hours.

Matthew Perry’s previous health problems

Perry had been open about his health problems due to drugs and alcohol and his hopes to help others struggling with addiction. He estimated to the New York Times that he spent $9 million to get sober, and described the journey in his memoir, “Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing.”

“I have lived half my life in some form of treatment center or sober living home. That’s fine when you’re twenty-four years old, but not so good when you’re forty-two,” reads the book’s prologue. “Now I was forty-nine and still struggling to get this monkey off my back.”

He also told radio host Tom Power in a November 2022 interview that he didn’t like watching “Friends” episodes because he could tell when he was struggling with his addictions.

Perry also faced several health issues, including a near-death experience in 2019. After his colon ruptured, he fell into a coma for two weeks and was subsequently hospitalized for five months.

Despite his struggles, Perry wanted to help others on their journey to sobriety.

“When I die, I don’t want ‘Friends’ to be the first thing mentioned. I do That to be the first one mentioned,” he told Power about helping people get sober. “And I will spend the rest of my life proving that.”

Nearly a week after his death, on November 3, the Matthew Perry Foundation was founded to help people struggling with addiction.

The ’17 Again’ star was laid to rest on November 3 during an intimate funeral at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles, according to People.

His “Friends” co-stars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer were in attendance, the magazine said.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com

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