Youth Addiction Program At Pacific Palisades’ Paul Revere School This Thursday

By Melanie Gullet
Special to the Palisades News

March 18, 1987. Bryan is born. I become a mom! He becomes my life, my joy, my purpose, my future. Becoming the mom of an addict was something that I never would have expected to happen. It is something that I pray never happens to anyone else.

Having my 26-year-old son die from his addiction is the worst thing that could have happened. Others’ sons and daughters die every day from addiction. I am glad to see that we are looking for a way to help cure addiction instead of hiding it and being embarrassed by it as we did.

Bryan Dunn

Bryan Dunn

Addiction is a disease. As doctors (Gullet is a dentist, Bryan’s stepdad is an oral surgeon), we should have known what to do. But, we didn’t. No one does really. Some things work and many things don’t. The addict needs to be willing but the addict is sick. My addict did things that my son would never do. My addict and my son were two different people in the same body with the same brain that led him to an accidental overdose.

Someone recently asked me how I could continue to talk about my son’s death.

I didn’t really know how to answer that because within a few days of Bryan’s pass- ing of an accidental heroin overdose in Jan- uary 2014, I decided to start Bryan’s Smile.

I know my son’s death was not intentional. He made a mistake and it took his life. I know Bryan is always watching over me and he was by my side that first week.

The idea and the logo and the goal came to me so easily…His name is Bryan…I am a dentist who practices prevention and loves to make people smile. The thing I missed the most when Bryan became addicted to drugs was his smile. I would give my life to see him smile again.

That is why I had a Bryan’s Smile Facebook page and a website developed for our nonprofit. I can always remind myself of Bryan’s smile by the photos that I post.

I tell anyone who may want to hear my story about Bryan. I want them to see his great smile and to know what a great boy he was.

The strange thing is that when I tell Bryan’s story, people don’t smile. They usually are sad; some cry. But, what I want more than anything is for them to be able to see the smiles of their family and friends for the rest of their lives and not have to worry that a drug has taken that away forever.

That is why I will continue to spread the story of my son Bryan and why I push hard for families to come to our Bryan’s Smile Reality Tours. We cannot hide from drugs and pretend they are not in our communities. We cannot say, “Not my child.” We need to educate ourselves and children about consequences and about the dangers of saying yes, even just one time.

Our last program of the year is Thursday evening, November 17, in the Paul Revere Middle School Auditorium. Like us, join us, come and help prevent your family from experiencing what our family did. Visit: Bryanssmile.com.

(Editor’s note: This interactive two-hour program helps to open communication between parents and children, and shows the consequences of certain choices when drugs and alcohol are involved. Check-in for the program is 5:45 p.m. and the program runs from 6 to 8:15 p.m. The free program is intended for children ages 10-17, who must be accompanied by a parent.)

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