How a Teen Abstains from Drugs and Alcohol Interview

Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
Savanna and Jill

Peer pressure can influence teenagers into doing just about anything, but in this how teens can abstain from drugs and alcohol interview, you'll hear how one teen has made it her mission to stay away from illegal substances and motivate other teenagers to do the same.

About Jill Vanderwood and Savanna Peterson

Jill Vanderwood and her granddaughter Savanna Peterson wrote a book for teens, Drugs Make You Un-Smarter. Through their exclusive interviews with celebrities, such as Jason London and Tray Chaney, teens are able to learn the devastation substance abuse can have on people's lives. This book helps teenagers understand the ill effects of drugs and alcohol and gives them the courage to take a stand against drugs and alcohol use.

How a Teen Abstains from Drugs and Alcohol Interview

About the Book

LTK: What inspired you to write Drugs Make You Un-Smarter?

Jillian Vanderwood (JV): During the summer when Savanna was fourteen, I told her and her younger sister that I would help them write a book. I thought they would write a picture book with a few words and either draw pictures or take photos. Her little sister said she didn't want to write a book until she was older. Savanna was very quiet, so I assumed she wasn't interested. A few days later, she came to me and said, "Grandma, I know what book I want to write. I want to write a book telling kids that even if they grow up around drugs, they don't have to do them."

Savanna Peterson (SP): I try to have as much fun as I possibly can and that does not include drugs or drinking. You have more fun when you can remember your memories. I like to remember what I did the night before. Drugs may run in my family, but it stops with me. I hope my little sister will find the right sibling to look up to.

LTK: How can your book help teens deal with peer pressure?

JV: The book can help teens deal with peer pressure by hearing how other kids and celebrities are dealing with this issue. Also, learning about kids who have taken drugs and messed up their lives and talking about the hard road back will help kids make better choices.

Tips for Teens and Adults about Drug Addiction

LTK: How did you help support your granddaughter?

JV: I call myself a "designated safe person." Anytime Savanna needed a ride or someone to talk to, I was there. I would pick her up from her house or anywhere she was stranded, When she was younger she spent so much time at my house, she said she had two houses. If I'm gone, she calls her aunt for help or rides. I also hired Savanna to clean my house when she was eleven. She has been cleaning my house ever since. This way I can make sure she has a cell phone so she can always get in touch with me. One time she cleans for money and the next time she cleans for her phone payment.

LTK: Since your grandson was in trouble for drugs and alcohol, do you have any tips for teens who are addicted?

JV: There is often a problem that kids are trying to 'run' away from, such as family problems or abuse. If teens are having a hard time dealing with life, get help. Confide in someone; you don't have to deal with this alone.

LTK: What are some tips for teens wanting to abstain from drugs and alcohol?

JV: Teens need to decide what they really want from their lives. Will drugs get you where you want to be in life? Drugs are never the answer to your problems. Keep a clear head and go toward your goals. There is a section of this book called Taking a Stand Against Drugs, where you will find stories of kids who are living their lives drug free. The There's Nothing to Do section on my website gives teens information on volunteer opportunities and jobs for kids.

Savanna's Story and Tips for Abstaining from Drugs and Alcohol

LTK: What lead you to decide to abstain from drugs and alcohol?

SP: My dad started doing drugs when he was fourteen. He went to prison before I was born, and he was in prison for most of my life. I always wished for my dad. When he got out of prison, he would only stay out for five or six months until he would be arrested again for some scheme like robbing a bank or embezzling money. All of his time in prison had something to do with drugs. I saw my dad shoot up heroin when I was five.

I saw my brother smoking weed in the garage with his friend when I was about eight years old. I thought it was disgusting and a waste. When I really understood what drugs really were, I thought it was a gross poison that took over your body and made you do dumb things. When I saw how it affected people around me, I just knew it was bad news. There isn't one good thing about any of it.

LTK: What type of home life did you have?

SP: My mom is a single parent, and she works at a bar to support our family. We live in a house, and I have my own room. My mom works hard to support us. She has a big heart and wants to help everyone, and most of the time Mom doesn't realize that the old friends from her past have lost their homes and their family because of drug abuse. All of these people eat our food and never help with the bills.

I live in a "house for homeless" or a "HEY!! We have drugs and food - come live here!" When I think about it, I just get so angry and frustrated. I want to do something about it. If I could live with my grandma, I would. I'm old fashioned and like to deal with my problems and just fix them in the best way possible. I pretty much have my own apartment, I have a lock on my door and even have my own fridge. If I had my own bathroom I would never go upstairs for anything or anyone. The only thing I can't do is have soundproof walls. That would be perfect, I would get more sleep for school in the morning, There is so much noise in my house when my mom or my brother are having parties, or yelling at each other.

JV: What are some of the challenges you encountered from abstaining?

SP: At first, I got teased. People call me Mormon and say I'm not fun or I'm a "goody good." It doesn't bother me one bit. I have a better life, and I have more fun. I am going to have a better life when I grow up. My mom and brother get along so well because they have the same interests; my mom drinks and my brother does drugs. Sometimes I get along with my mom, but I never get along with my brother.

LTK: Did you ever have a time in which you felt like giving into alcohol and drugs?

SP: Not really, it doesn't usually come to mind. There were times I thought about doing drugs so I would have a better relationship with my family and old friends I grew up with, because they are into that sort of stuff. I don't think about it now. It's pathetic, and thinking about it isn't even worth it. It sickens me now.

LTK: What keeps you on track and strong?

SP: I stay on track by meeting other straight edge teens. They inspire me, I tell them my story, and they give me really good compliments. Some of them even have the same problems as me. I also hang out with my grandma a lot. We go to the movies or make banana bread. Some of my friends who gave up drugs go with me to drug and alcohol free dances every Saturday.

LTK: Do you have any experience you would like to share that can give other teens, who are abstaining, inspiration and hope?

SP: I don't want anyone to feel bad for me. I just want them to realize I'm doing good with the life and friends who surround me. Anything that people say or do can't affect you unless you let it. You can change your mind about drugs and drinking if you really set your heart and mind to it. You can be invincible and a hero to anyone if you show him how confident you are about staying away from drugs.

LTK: Who can teens turn to if they are struggling with peer pressure or a turbulent home life?

SP: Anyone who knows how to give good feedback or has the same troubles. Someone who won't doubt or judge and someone they fully trust.

LTK: How is your life now? What are some of the great things that have come out of your decision to abstain?

SP: Writing a book has been really exciting. I had a hard time trusting that the book would really be finished and published. Yesterday my grandma and I had an interview for a newspaper. I am still in school, and I'm trying to make a good life and a future for myself. I have trust with people, an open mind and heart. I also have great new friends who are straight edge. I am very appreciative for all the great people in my life and all my nice things. It's also great to spend money on things that will last, rather than drugs that are gone the minute you take them.

Many Thanks to Jillian and Savanna

LoveToKnow would like to thank Jillian Vanderwood and Savanna Peterson for taking the time to share their stories and tips in this how a teen abstains from drugs and alcohol interview.

How a Teen Abstains from Drugs and Alcohol Interview