"It was a rough go to get here, but I feel really good," the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star tells PEOPLE. "I love life. I'm just enjoying it so much."
Speaking at The Hollywood Reporter's Nominees Night pre-Oscar party on Thursday, Richards, 47, said it was her own motivation that prompted her to seek treatment in December, but that she also relied on the support of those around her, including her sister Kyle.
"I was definitely tired of the way my life was and I wanted to get better," Richards said. "My family and friends – without them I just definitely couldn't do it."
Also providing help along the way: her fans.
"The fans have been so supportive," she said. "I steal a sneak peek at Facebook or Twitter ... I look on there and I see them and they're like, 'We love you and you're the best' or whatever they say. And when I go places, too. I'm walking down the street and people walk up to me and they just hug me and they cry and they're like, 'We love you and we watched you go down and come back up.' "
"That's so rewarding to me, to know that I've been something good in their life as well that I can come up on the other side now," she added.
Since leaving treatment, Richards has started hiking and doing Pilates, as well as taking more time out of her schedule to just focus on herself.
Though she did not comment on whether she'd be returning to the Real Housewives, Richards said her struggles with substance abuse aren't a reason to shy away from the cameras.
"It doesn't make me want to walk away from anything," she told PEOPLE of her stint in rehab. "It makes me want to step out in front of everything and just say you know what? Anybody can do it. I don't want to walk away from anything in my life. It's part of life, you know, facing it."