He said he cannot recall anyone ever giving him a "pat on the back" or telling him he could have a future.
He was staying at a men's shelter when he learned there was an opening at Redemption House in Dunbar. He is now working on an associate's degree in sustainable living as he learns more about the environment and recycling.
"I'm proud to say I've been away from drugs since 2004," he said. "Every day is a challenge. I have a very addictive personality and am easily influenced. Every day I thank God I have the ability to give back to the community and have people rooting for me."
While it's not an easy path, he has gained the confidence to believe he can maneuver it.
"I feel like I'm just out of high school and moving on," he said. "It's a beautiful experience."
Another resident of Redemption House is Cain's brother, James. James, 57, is overcoming his own addiction battles and is inspired by what his brother has accomplished.
He is now in his second semester of college with the goal of becoming a youth counselor.
James Thomas Hill, 51, who has also battled substance abuse, is grateful to have a job driving a truck and a place to stay. He has been at Redemption House for about a month and said it is working well.
Reggie Cain said addiction has touched almost every family in one way or another. He believes jail is not the answer to solving the problem.
He hopes to open more transitional homes as a way of being part of the solution.
His degree will help him become more visible and more involved as a professional, he said.
He never took his eye off the goal, even when a battle with cancer began last year.
Symptoms first surfaced during one of the regular Sunday meals he shared with his daughters and nieces. It felt as though food had lodged in his chest. That was the beginning of a medical maze of tests, surgery, and chemotherapy treatments. Even when doctors said the prognosis was not good, he scheduled treatments around classes.
"I never gave in to that," he said. "The vision I had was very clear of what God wanted me to do. Death was not part of that. I had to keep faith and keep moving forward. By the grace of God, there is no trace of cancer in my body. I'm a walking miracle."
Cain said the last three years have been the best of his life. During this time, he has served as director of Partnership of African American Churches under the direction of his pastor, the Rev. Michael A. Poke Sr. of St. Paul Baptist in St. Albans, and was certified as a drug prevention specialist.
In August of this year he was inducted into the St. Albans High School Sports and Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame.
Cain agreed to tell his story with the goal of offering hope to others who may feel they are trapped by any kind of insurmountable challenge.
"If not for my past, I wouldn't be where I am. I'm thankful for my past. Today I hope that I can give other people hope."
For more information about Redemption House, contact Reggie Cain by email at cainreginal...@yahoo.com or by phone at 304-437-3104 or 304-982-5438. The address is Redemption House, P.O. Box 75, Dunbar, WV 25064.
Contact writer Charlotte Ferrell Smith at charlo...@dailymail. com or 304-348-1246.