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Recovering heroin addict who lost everything, now helping others battle addiction

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Michael Quinn never thought he would be working at The McShin Foundation helping people with their addictions.

michael-quinn-1The Henrico native juggles phone calls all day. People on the other end of the line are at the end of their rope.

“My job includes helping people find a way out of despair,” Quinn told CBS 6's Greg McQuade.

Quinn can relate. Growing up in the near west end he seemingly had everything on the surface. But in reality he was hiding a secret.

“I put on this persona of Mr. Perfect. Played sports. Played music. Good at School,” said Quinn. “No. I didn’t like who I was, but I didn’t know how to change it.”

Social anxiety led Quinn to experiment with marijuana and alcohol as way to escape.

During and after college, Quinn searched for a stronger high. But once he found heroin and crack, the drugs would not let go.

“I couldn’t go throughout the whole day without using,” said Quinn. “I was living to use and using to live… That is all that I knew.”

Quinn’s life was spiraling out of control.

“This was what I was going to do for the rest of my life. Shoot heroin and I was going to die or go to prison… And I was ok with it. That is the insanity of it,” said Quinn.

The 31-year-old was living in his car, lost jobs, his girlfriend and relationships with his family.

“Most people go for the coffee in the morning, I went for the needle and the spoon,” he said.

Heroin’s claws were digging into Quinn and he was heading toward an early grave. Until one day he woke up and after so much pain and heartache he realized he didn’t like where he was sitting at rock bottom.

Quinn’s first step to getting clean was admitting to his mother he was an addict.

“I said, ‘I need help. I don’t know what to do. I’m tired. I’m tired of living like this,’” said Quinn.

Quinn walked into the McShin Foundation at its recovery facility in Henrico a year and a half ago and he’s never left.

McShin’s president, John Shinholser was so impressed with Quinn’s determination, John named him McShin’s Intake Cooridinator.

“I didn’t think he was going to do so well so fast,” said Shinholser. “I couldn’t be any more prouder than I am of Quinn and his success.”

Now clean, Quinn refuses to stay silent about his past.

“I do everything I can to break the stigma of addiction,” he said. “Fifteen months later I am trying to help other people see the light I saw.”

Helping addicts and their families recover is a role Michael Quinn relishes. It’s a responsibility he takes seriously. A job that helped saved his life.

“I’m finally content,” said Quinn. “I’m happy with who I am and that is all because of recovery.”

If you need help with your addiction call the McShin Foundation at 804-249-1845 or visit their website.