Higgins trailed 9-5 to Mark Williams but recovered to win 10-9 in the final in Telford late on Sunday night. It was his first major tournament triumph since serving a six-month ban for bringing the game into disrepute after admitting breaching rules around betting.
Higgins admits his family helped him through those difficult times and he has won 18 out of 19 matches since returning to competitive action last month. He said: "It means everything just to be back playing and competing, and now winning the UK Championship means a great deal. It has been the hardest six months I'll probably have to go through in my life but hopefully I've put it behind me now. It is a learning curve and it has made me more determined."
Higgins added: "These things come to test you in life and this is one thing I've had to battle through. My wife Denise has been massive through all of this. Your wife, mum, dad and kids are the people that are behind you when all is said and done.
"There were probably some points when you thought you'd probably be cracking up and they keep you going and lift your spirits back up."
Higgins showed great resilience in refusing to be beaten by Williams and has become the fourth player to win three or more UK titles after Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O'Sullivan. He said: "If someone had tried to write a book with that finale, they would have been laughed at. I was 9-5 behind, was being totally outplayed and running out of ideas. Mark was dictating everything.
"But I just never gave up which has been the case all week. I thought 9-5 was too big a mountain but the frames start to go by and a couple of things never went his way. The balls never forgive you. It is unbelievable.
"I don't see how you can top this. I suppose winning the world title 18-17 on the black. Maybe that would top it. But it is stuff that dreams are made of."
Higgins had also stated his desire to lift the crown for his dad, John senior, who is losing his five-year battle against cancer. He said: "Dad has been back up home watching some of the snooker. He's been a big part for me, coming here to tournaments, but he's been here with me this week as well (in spirit]."
Higgins' success also lifted him back to No 1 in the world rankings ahead of Neil Robertson. He said: "It is great to be back at number one but I am sure the rankings will be to-ing and fro-ing until the end of the season."
Williams is up to No 3 but is unhappy with his form. He said: "John did well to come back. I've got no complaints. I've been pretty dreadful overall this week. The final was probably the best match I've played in the tournament.I'm not going to win tournaments the way I am playing but I nearly nicked it. It was a fluke that I was in the final but I had a chance to nick it and probably threw it away."