Layton E. Holladay

Layton E. Holladay

Caring, loving, athletic, quiet, loved

Layton had a love for sports, family and friends. “Family time was always a priority for Layton,” according to his dad, Craig. They played cards, took hikes in the mountains, spent time at the beach together and took trips to places like the Grand Canyon, the Florida Keys, Orlando theme parks and Washington, D.C.; they made many great family memories. Layton and his brother Cody were close and often played sports and worked out together. At 14, Layton took a boating course, got an operator’s license and spent hours boating, body surfing, kayaking or tubing.

“Layton was a man of few words in most every setting,” his dad said. His family and friends would always try to make him smile and would occasionally get a sheepish grin from him, which was priceless, ‘It was even better when you made him laugh,’ Craig said. When Layton was with his friends, they spent time at the lake, listened to music and attended school events together. Being the master of a variety of video games, Layton took great joy in beating his brother, friends and cousins during hours of play.

Layton was a four-season athlete and rallied his teammates with his competitive sprit. But he could also be found consoling a teammate who had made an error, underperformed or who was feeling discouraged. He was a selfless person, sensitive to the needs of others. He excelled at baseball and football but was also good at track, cross-country, basketball, rugby and swimming.

Layton’s addiction escalated quickly from his first use of weed just 14 months before his death. He declined rapidly, going from “being a gentle, loving kid to being very difficult,” his dad said. He became mean, angry and deceptive. His grades went from mostly A’s to D’s and F’s. He lost motivation, became withdrawn and only associated with those who used drugs. “I had to remind myself that I wasn’t really dealing with my son, but the addiction demon that possessed him,” his dad said, ‘it was horrible.’ Layton died just after his 17th birthday.

During the time of Layton’s addiction, Craig worried constantly, lost joy in life and couldn’t sleep. He said: “Outside of caring for Layton’s brother, Cody, Layton was my sole focus.” Craig spent hours learning about addiction, meeting with substance use specialists, going to NarAnon meetings and speaking with other parents about their experiences. He hopes to dispel the myths about those who suffer from substance use disorder by sharing Layton’s story at schools, churches and civic organizations. He points out that negative stereotypes of those who have substance use disorders as being “bad kids with bad backgrounds” are often inaccurate. He emphasizes that Layton, like many substance users, was a good kid from a wonderful home. He also feels it is important to illustrate the particular challenges of the drug epidemic for teens and younger adults.

A memorial fund has been established in Layton’s name at Duke University Hospital. The recipient receives funding for studies in substance abuse research.

Layton’s father, Craig Holladay, provided the information for this narrative.

December 9, 2001–February 6, 2019
Age 17- Lived with addiction 10 months.

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