Drugs Make You Un-Smarter

by Savanna Peterson
and Jill Ammon Vanderwood

What do you do when a parent, a grandparent, a brother, cousins and an uncle are doing drugs or drinking? You are also expected to do drugs, right?

This is a nonfiction book, beginning with the story of Savanna Peterson. She was fifteen when she helped her grandmother write this book. Savanna was raised in a household where her brother had parties with drugs and alcohol, while her mother worked nights. Her father was in prison for crimes he committed because of drug addiction. This book includes stories about teens who did drugs, descriptions of drugs and how it affects people and how drugs and alcohol affect families.

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Book Cover for Drugs Make You Un-Smarter

About Drugs Make You Un-Smarter

Fifteen-year-old Savanna Peterson went beyond the expectations of others and took a stand against drugs; even though her older brother has parties while her mom is at work, the cops are watching her house, and her dad spent most of her life in prison, for drugs.

You will read about other kids who took the hard road to drug abuse and found their way back. Learn about drugs and the myths and lies behind them, and hear about goal-oriented kids who, like Savanna have made a choice to remain drug-free.

A Note from Jill Vanderwood

My name is Jill Ammon Vanderwood. I am an author and a grandmother. In the summer of 2010, I told two of my granddaughters that I would help them write a book, thinking that they would write a simple picture book with either illustrations or photos. A few days later, my fifteen-year-old granddaughter, Savanna came to me and said, “I know what I want to write about. I want to write a book telling kids that even if someone in their family is doing drugs or drinking, they don’t have to.”

I was very surprised, but I told her I would help her. I bought her a notebook so she could start writing her story. I also told her that even if I was in the middle of something, when she was ready to write this book, I would drop everything and help her.

This book begins with Savanna’s story. We go into sections which tell about various drugs and alcohol. In each section, you will find stories of people who have experienced the effects of the drug. In the rehab section we have interviews with doctors and those who have been through rehab, such as Savanna’s cousin, Dillon who has been down the hard road of drugs, been locked up as well as experiencing rehab, having a no-contact order with his cousin, Savanna’s brother—even at Christmas time, and finally having a no-contact order with his own girlfriend. We include stories about Dillon’s father who died a drug-related death and his mother who was hooked on Crystal Meth.

Learn about kids who say no to drugs, and celebrities who are taking a stand against drugs.

The reader will hear Savanna’s compelling voice throughout this book, warning, and pleading for kids to stay off drugs, get an education and make a good life for themselves. Dillon once asked “What could Savanna have to say about drugs? She has never been on drugs.”

My answer is, “What doesn’t she have to say?” From the time she was five years old, Savanna has been exposed to drugs, such as heroin. She cried in her room when she smelled weed coming from the bathroom, and whenever her mom came home drunk.

Savanna is a strong voice for youth. She has taken a stand against drugs, and encourages kids everywhere to Say No to Drugs and Say Yes to Life!

What People are Saying About Drugs Make You Un-Smarter

The title says it all! What’s often missing for young people is the ability to project into the future what will happen because of drug abuse. This book does an excellent job of showing how drugs ruin lives from many different perspectives – real stories that will help young people think before they act.

Lucas A. Catton
CCDC author of The New Face of Recovery: Unlabeling Addiction as a Disease and Finding Treatments that Work

Young people get such a lot of negative press these days that people could be forgiven for despairing of what the future holds. But then along comes a sassy fifteen year old girl from Salt Lake City and blows those pre-conceived notions out of the water.

With wisdom beyond her years, she advises teens – “Don’t do what is expected become anyone you want to be”. Savanna, you are an inspiration to us all. Thank you for this book.

Betty Cosgrave
Author of The Whispering Soul, and mother of a recovering addict

In this honest, intimate and heartfelt compilation, Savanna Peterson shows you why drugs are never an answer and why “no” is the only right answer to drugs. While giving the facts about drugs, undiluted, from the mouths of drug users themselves and the loved ones of those who have abused substances, Peterson shows that faith in oneself is the most powerful resistance.

The touching sincerity and simplicity of her message in this mini-anthology is bound to take hold of anyone open to finding the truth there-in: drugs are no way to happiness.

Judi Shervell
Coordinator: Foundation for a Drug Free World


Erica Catton

Erica Catton

Erica Catton has dedicated the last 9 years to helping those struggling with drugs and alcohol. She is currently working for Narconon Arrowhead as an Executive over the promotion, marketing, and public relations areas. She continues to live her life every day to help others who are struggling through the ravages of drug and alcohol addiction.

Tray Chaney

Tray Chaney

Tray Chaney has been on stage as a dancer since age four. He stepped into acting with the role of “Poot” on the Peabody-winning HBO drama series, “The Wire.” Tray continued with “The Wire” for five consecutive seasons.

As well as acting, Tray has performed on music videos and recently began taping his debut album.

Tray Chaney is the author of his autobiography “The Truth You Can’t BeTray”, Tray has long been an advocate for reading and literacy. He has joined with a group of celebrities in the Write Stuff Literacy Campaign to promote reading to school-age children.

Sherry Gaba

Sherry Gaba

Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a licensed psychotherapist and life coach. Sherry appears monthly as a guest expert on the radio show, Dr. Drew Live, and she was seen in action on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab 2 and 3. As a life coach, Sherry helped cast members make a transition on the spin-off Sober House. Sherry is currently involved with the 2111 production, Celebrity Rehab 4.

Sherry Gaba’s latest book, “The Law of Sobriety, Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery” about recovery from addictions and alcoholism, is now available through HCI publishing.

Brooks Gibbs

Brooks Gibbs

Brooks Gibbs, Youth Motivational Speaker, grew up in a dysfunctional family shattered by divorce and addiction. He turned his story into a tale of life transformation.

Brooks Gibbs has earned a reputation as a leading authority on the youth issues of bullying and life choices. Featured in, Teen People Magazine, Washington Post and interviewed on CBS, his inspiring personal stories and helpful strategies have reached more than a million teens and counting.

For more information or to book Brooks Gibbs for your next function, visit: BrooksGibbs.com.

Devon Green

Devon Green

Devon Green is the founder of Devon’s Heal the World Recycling, which she started when she was five years old. Her younger sister, Jessica Green, is the Vice President of Recycling. The business includes giving of her time and raising funds to help others, as well as helping the planet. in Business at Western Carolina University and plans to attend graduate school.

Eighteen-year-old Devon has completed her Bachelor’s Degree

The story of Devon’s Heal the World Recycling has been featured in newspapers and magazines around the world and in textbooks read by children in the Netherlands.

Kevin Hauschulz

Kevin Hauschulz

Kevin Hauschulz has been in recovery for 3 years. As the lead Telephone Recovery Support Coordinator for the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery, Kevin attempts to reach out to people in recovery and provide them with recovery support services, as well as putting on training in many different subject areas.

Kevin has a degree in Psychology and an Associate’s Degree in Drug and Alcohol Recovery Counseling. Kevin currently is enrolled at Springfield College in their School of Social Work. Kevin hopes to attain his Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counseling Certification (LADC) in the near future.

Punyamurtula Kishore M.D., M.P.H., Medical Director

Preventive Medicine Associates, Brookline, MA

Punyamurtula Kishore M.D., M.P.H., Medical Director

Dr. Punyamurtula Kishore began his medical career as a primary care/family practice physician and then moved into a position as the Medical Director of the Washingtonian Center for Addiction, the first organization in the U.S. to recognize addiction as a disease. Dr. Kishore has been a member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine since 1986 and has helped treat more than 140,000 addicts.

In 1993, Dr. Kishore founded National Library of Addictions in Brookline, Massachusetts. The Library is designed to provide a non-profit structure for addiction professionals to exchange ideas and to further the development of treatment methodologies.

Kristen Moeller, MS

Author/Coach/Speaker/Radio Show Host

Kristen Moeller, MS

After suffering for years with an eating disorder and drug addiction, Kristen Moeller discovered that she was always waiting for something to change. She finally realized that the change needed to come from within herself. In 2008, Kristen wrote the bestseller, “Waiting for Jack,” which was picked up by a major New York Agent and has a forward written by Jack Canfield. Kristen is a radio talk show hostess, the celebrity ambassador for the National Eating Disorder Association, and works for her own non- profit organization, The Chick-a-go Foundation, providing pay-it-forward scholarships to transformational educational events. www.waitingforjack.com

Mikey Rox

Mikey Rox

Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist/writer and the principal of a media management and marketing company called Paper Rox Scissors. He is a 2003 graduate of Roanoke College, where he earned a B.A. degree in English and a minor in Spanish. His professional work has appeared in more than 100 regional, national, and international print and online publications throughout North America and Europe. Rox currently resides in New York City with his fiancé and their dog, Jaxon.

Jennifer Storm

Jennifer Storm

With degrees in Rehabilitation Services and Organizational Management and a certificate of Human Resources Dispute Management and Resolution, Ms. Storm joined the Victims’ Witness Assistance Program, VWAP, as the organization’s second Executive Director. In 2002, Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell appointed Ms. Storm as a commissioner to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

Ms. Storm is the author of two personal memoirs-“Blackout Girl: Growing Up and Drying Out in America” (Hazelden 2008) and “Leave the Light On: A Memoir of Recovery and Self-Discovery” (Central Recovery Press 2010), both which chronicle her own journey as a rape survivor and her 10-year battle with drug addiction and alcoholism.

Vanessa Van Petten

Vanessa Van Petten

Vanessa Van Petten, age 25, is the author of the parenting book “You’re Grounded!” She founded RadicalParenting.com where she gives her expertise, along with 60 teen writers, ages 12-20, to help parents and adults get an honest and open view into the world and mind of youth.

Parents learn to better understand their teenager and kids grasp the importance of social literacy to prevent bullying, cliques, and miscommunication with their parents.

Radicalparenting.com is read by thousands of teens and parents daily, and Vanessa was chosen as one of the top 100 Bloggers to watch by Women Magazine.

Vanessa has been featured in teen magazines, newspapers and television shows giving a young perspective on awesome parenting. Van Petten is now on an international speaking tour.

Dr. Talia Witkowski

Dr. Talia Witkowski

Dr. Talia Witkowski is an addiction and eating disorder specialist. Dr. Talia learned about these afflictions through her own suffering. She has put her expertise to work in treatment centers and private practice with people with eating disorders and addictions. She received healing without the use of diets, exercise regimes, medication, or traditional psy- chotherapy (or having to enter into a residential treatment program). Help came to her from a custom-tailored lifestyle program called “Heal Your Hunger.” She is now the Marketing and Outreach Coordinator of this in- credible organization. If you have any questions, please reach out: Talia at HealYourHunger.com.

Co-Author Savanna Peterson Holding Drugs Make You Un-Smarter
Co-Author Savanna Peterson Holding Drugs Make You Un-Smarter

Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers’ Favorite

“Drugs Make You Un-Smarter” is written by a remarkable fifteen-year-old girl, Savanna Peterson, and her grandmother, Jill Ammon Vanderwood. To say I am impressed would be an understatement. MS Peterson has penned a unique book. Too often I find myself reviewing books where the author is bemoaning the fact that he or she used drugs, why he or she used it and all of the terrible things in their life. That is not what happens in “Drugs Make You Un-Smarter”. Peterson does not and has not used drugs. However, she has witnessed the effects it has had on others. It her words, “Doing drugs can change all the good things about you.”

At the beginning of the book is a “Drug Free Pledge.” At the bottom of the page is a statement from 18 year old Kristen. “When I was sixteen I was offered drugs by my mom.” This statement grabbed my attention. It angered me. As a parent we are supposed to guide our children, love them and protect them, not lead them to drugs.

“Drugs Make You Un-Smarter” begins with Peterson’s story. She frankly discusses her own family: mother, brother and dad. Her father was a drug addict and had served time in prison. One part of her story is how her dad taught her to steal. Savanna Peterson wants more for her life, “I am going to graduate, go to college, and have a great-paying job . . . Doing drugs runs in the family, but it stops with me.” Most of the book is filled with essays and interviews with other teens. Each one has their own story to tell. They are organized by types of drugs: Alcohol, Marijuana, Crack, Cocaine, Crystal Meth, LSD, Heroin, Inhalants, Ecstasy and Prescription Drugs. Section 13 addresses ‘Rehab’. Section 14 addresses ‘Taking A Stand’. I am amazed by the pluck of Savanna Peterson. I know her grandmother is very proud of her. She is an award winning author but more importantly she is wise beyond her years. “Drugs Make You Un-Smarter” is one of the most important books written against drug abuse. I know it will have a positive influence on many teens and their families.

Anne Boling – Readers’ Favorite
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