Former Brownlow Medal winner Ben Cousins has opened up on his return to a normal life after a long and public battle with drug addiction.

The 44-year-old had a troubled end to his football career, resigning his captaincy at West Coast in 2006 after fleeing an RBT before it was revealed he had a substance abuse problem.

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Cousins spent time in rehab in the same year before he was arrested for drug possession the following year.

He was delisted and banned from the AFL for 12 months, ending his time at West Coast after a Brownlow Medal in 2005, the 2006 premiership, six All-Australian selections and 238 games.

In 2009, Cousins did return to the AFL, playing the final two seasons of his career at Richmond.

After his career, Cousins’ life spiralled out of control, leading to a public battle with drugs and legal issues, including serving a 12-month prison sentence in 2017 for stalking the mother of his children Maylea Tinecheff.

But in more recent times, Cousins appeared fit and healthy and has come clean on how difficult his recovery has been.

Speaking in Bunbury over the weekend alongside 2018 West Coast premiership hero Dom Sheed, Cousins revealed he was finally happy again.

“It just gets back to being happy and for a long time, I hadn’t been and I had those fleeting moments where I thought I was kidding myself just to try and get by,” he said.

“It’s been a big struggle but today I sit here and it’s not in any way about the things I’ve given up or had to give up or sacrifice, it’s all about things I can give back.”

Cousins also spoke about his move to the Tigers, sharing his gratitude the club gave him chance, The West Australian reported.

“I played the majority of my football at West Coast and never once did I entertain the idea of leaving West Coast or did I ever see my future being anything other than a one-team player but obviously what happened, happened,” he said.

“One of the great things about that whole situation was the opportunity that I got to play for Richmond who were sort of brave enough to take it on and pick me up.

“I was desperate to play, I was no guarantee to get picked up and there was a circus that sort of followed me for 12 or 18 months.

“As much as I would have loved for it to be just a football decision, it really wasn’t.

“I’m forever grateful. (Richmond) were a fantastic club to play for.

“I had two pretty tough years on field but it’s been amazing to be at that footy club at that time with a handful of that core group that was able to go on and build something from those days and win those three grand finals and have that dynasty.”

Over the past few years, there have been signs Cousins has been getting his life together, making a high profile appearance on the Brownlow Medal red carpet in 2021 and captaining a local charity football match in Perth in January.

Cousins’ improved mental wellbeing was matched with his physical appearance as he showed off a trimmed physique when making his return to football last year for the Queens Park Bulldogs in the Perth Metro Football League.

In October last year, Cousins was named “employee of the month” at the Perth construction company he works at as a full-time scaffolder.

He has even impressed on TV in a weekly segment on 7 News Perth.

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