Actor Matthew Perry became embroiled in a heated argument about drug addiction on Monday night (16Dec13) when he took part in a Tv debate in the U.K.

The former Friends star, who has struggled with drug and alcohol addiction himself, appeared on British news programme Newsnight to discuss the best ways of tackling substance abuse problems, but clashed with newspaper columnist and author Peter Hitchens.

The actor advocates drug courts, which aim to medically treat non-violent abusers rather than prosecuting them as criminals, while Hitchens insists drugs addicts should be punished.

Perry became furious when Hitchens suggested addiction can be overcome with willpower and is best prevented by a harsh criminal justice system to dissuade people from ever trying illegal substances in the first place.

Hitchens also claimed the belief that drug addiction is a disease is a fantasy.

The actor responded to Hitchens' "fantasy of addiction" hypothesis by saying, "You are making a point that is as ludicrous as saying Peter Pan is real," and later mocked him by referring to Hitchens as Santa.

Hitchens hit back as the debate came to a close, saying, "This is a very serious subject and you treat it with immense levity. The policy which you so smugly and loftily advocate, this policy has led to disaster in western countries for decades."

After the debate, Newsnight editor Ian Katz revealed producers had separated the pair and made sure they left through different exits, writing in a post on, "Dispatching producer to ensure (Peter Hitchens) and Matthew Perry leave the building through different exits."