Grieving Out Loud with Angela Kennecke

How a high school dropout and meth user found recovery and became a college professor

Dr. Melissa Dittberner’s or “Dr. Mo,” as she is known to her students, began using meth at age 14. Dr. Mo has had such a storied life. After giving up methamphetamines when she became a mom and eventually a single mom, she turned to alcohol. This high-school dropout was a welder and roller derby queen, before eventually earning her Ph.D. in addiction studies. She has a deep understanding of addiction, both personally and professionally.

Dr. Mo is a member of the Emily’s Hope Board of Directors and Prevention Education Committee.  Dr. Mo is a professor in the Addiction Counseling and Prevention Department at the University of South Dakota and has been teaching in higher education for more than seven years. She has a Ph.D. in counseling and psychology in education, plus a master’s degree in addiction studies, and a bachelor’s degree in health sciences. She does research on college students’ substance use, pedagogy, addiction, and harm reduction. Not only is she very passionate about drug and alcohol prevention, helping skills, and telehealth technology, she has also worked on many grants surrounding substance use disorders. Dr. Mo is also a certified prevention specialist.