Cousins confessed that it was his love of footy that kept him going in his worst years and prevented him from self destructing earlier than he did.
But when it did come time to give up, he had to grapple with the knowledge that his "method of coping", although it bought him success, was not working.
"That was one of the things that made it really hard for me when it became unmanageable - over 10 or 12 years I'd had this method of not only playing footy, but also coping with life and I'd been successful."
Filming the documentary Such is Life: The Troubled Times of Ben Cousins was what saved him and helped him return to the field.
"The process of making the documentary has been a very cathartic experience," he said.
"To make this documentary was almost the journey back, being able to take a couple of steps back and see not just my own development, but also the people around me.
"For the first time I was able to sit back and see the collatoral damage, not so much around the footy club, but the people around me. And that was hard."
The controversial documentary airs tomorrow night on Channel Seven and Cousins has high hopes for it. He wants it to get people talking about drug addiction and break down some of the stigmas associated with it.
"A lot of people have asked me why I have done this documentary and whether it has been in my best interests opening up in a way that doesn't depict me in a great light," he said.
"The bottom line is that it can have a real impact and help people who aren't necesarily given the same second chance or extended the same help that I have.
"In no way is this documentary glamourising drug use. I'm one of the lucky ones."
Such is Life: The Troubled Times of Ben Cousins airs on Channel 7 Wednesday and Thursday night from 8:30pm.