Rams in Recovery helps keep students on solid ground

Photo by Mary Lee Clark.

Kenny Kane found himself at rock bottom at age 22.

It was fall 2012 and the Pennsylvania native and recent college dropout was sitting in the county prison facing multiple felonies. Living alone in a run-down apartment with no job and fighting a losing battle with addiction to alcohol and drugs, this wasn’t his first time in the correctional system —but it was his longest.

“It was torture because all those things I had done in my life, all the harm I had inflicted onto others came flooding into me and there was nothing I could do about it,” Kane said. “I just sat in that cell for a week.”

Kane said he can remember when he started experimenting with drugs and alcohol at a young age. He would go to high school with a backpack full of substances.

“As soon as I started I’d just become obsessed with it, everything else ceased to matter,” Kane said. “School didn’t matter, athletics didn’t matter, friendships didn’t matter. It was all about getting drunk and getting high.”

After spending a week in prison, Kane said the first thing he did upon his release was call his father. It was the first moment he can recall being completely honest with another person.

“I told my dad everything that I’d done and the first words out of his mouth were, ‘So what are we going to do about it now?’” Kane said.

Kane next saw the judge, who decided to give him another chance and sent him to treatment instead of sentencing him to more time in jail. Now, four years after Kane’s 26 day treatment, he says he considers himself extremely fortunate to receive another chance and being forced to rid himself of addiction cold turkey.

Kane eventually went back to school soon after treatment and finished his undergraduate degree in physics. He is now a Ph.D. candidate at VCU and an active member of the Rams in Recovery program at the VCU Wellness Center, known to most students as The Well.

Thomas Bannard, the program coordinator for Rams in Recovery, said it’s important for people in recovery to be surrounded by supportive peers who have had endured similar experiences.

“At a core level we provide a community for people to be who they are, to support each other and to be of service to each other,” Bannard said.

Bannard said the members of the Rams and Recovery group are special and recalled fondly a river trip the group took with current students and alumni.

The organization hosts group events and outings, as well as weekly meetings and meditation sessions for members of the VCU community in recovery. Beginning Oct. 27 “Yoga for 12 Step Recovery” will added on Thursdays.

“I had forgotten something that was so crucial for me in the first place, that sense of belonging, that sense of being part of something bigger than myself,” Kane said. “The relationships I have now, they’re beautiful, I love people and they love me back for who I am.”

Kane said his story shows that addiction is not an end, but a hurdle that can be overcome in order to live a healthier and more successful life.

“There is just something about sharing an experience with other people who literally put themselves through hell and have gotten themselves back that just brings people together,” Kane said.

Rams in Recovery holds a speaker series the first Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m in the Academic Learning Commons.

The program pairs a alumni with a current student, both who tell their stories of addiction and recovery. The event is free and open to the public.



marylee clark. photo by sarah kingMary Lee Clark
Mary Lee is a senior studying journalism. She currently interns for RVAmag and GayRVA.com, in addition to writing for the CT. She previously worked as a makeup artist at Darkwood Manor, did lighting design at Trackside Theater (where she is now on the Board of Directors) and photographed for the Page News and Courier.
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