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OCU Hires Director for New Addiction Prevention Program

Oklahoma City University has appointed a director to lead its new Addiction Prevention Studies program, which begins in the fall semester.

Peter Messiah previously managed the Houston Independent School District’s Safe Schools Department before coming to OCU. He holds more than a dozen certifications including drug prevention counseling, anger resolution and victims assistance crisis response.

While in Houston, Messiah concentrated his efforts on the school system’s drug-free program, homeless assistance, school-based social workers program and intervention assistance initiatives. He served on the board of directors for the Coalition on Behavioral Health, where he worked with groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to develop ways to combat addiction. He helped establish the Keeping It Safe and Sober (KISS) program at Texas Southern University, its first on-campus underage drinking coalition.

The Addiction Prevention Studies program at OCU was started by a donation from Jack Turner, who served on two governor’s task forces regarding addiction and on the board for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Service. Turner cited findings of a study conducted for the most recent Governor’s Task Force showing that the economic impact of drug and alcohol addiction and abuse alone cost the state and its citizens as much as $4.38 billion in 2003 and that each year, more than 6,500 students in Oklahoma colleges and universities drop out of school because of problems related to alcohol addiction and abuse. National studies reveal that as many as 85 percent of those incarcerated are there because of drug and alcohol addiction and abuse.

The Addiction Prevention Studies program at OCU is part of the Petree College of Arts and Sciences.

“I am excited to lead a strong vision and direction for the Addiction Prevention Studies program that includes campus awareness and educational opportunities, as well as community involvement,” Messiah said. “Because risk behaviors are pervasive in society, effective prevention efforts must implement a comprehensive plan to mitigate potential barriers to success.”