Lee Co. 12-year-old hospitalized from drug-laced vape

The vape was laced with fentanyl.
Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 8:34 PM EDT
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LEESBURG, Ga. (WALB) - What started off as a normal Thursday at school for a 12 year old, ended in a 12-hour battle for his life.

“I can’t explain how terrifying it is to send your child to school and get a phone call that his heart rate is elevated, and they don’t know what’s going on,” Jay Houston, Raleigh Houston’s mother, said.

She said doctors told her it’s a miracle that he is here today and he’s alive. The vape pen Raleigh used was laced with THC and fentanyl. He bought it that same day from another student. Raleigh says he didn’t know how risky this was.

“I just started vaping because all the people I was close to were vaping, and it became a ‘I couldn’t stop’ type of thing,” Raleigh Houston said.

Raleigh Houston doesn't plan to smoke anything ever again.
Raleigh Houston doesn't plan to smoke anything ever again.(WALB)

His mom didn’t know he was vaping. Raleigh kept it a secret for about a year. He shared this message with his classmates:

“There are other ways. If you want to deal with something you can deal with it that way. This is just messing with your life. I’m done vaping. I’ll kind of stuff of that nature,” Raleigh said.

Jay said that she constantly told her kids about the dangers of doing so.

“Peer pressure is hard. They have to have the confidence to stay no. If they don’t say no, they have to have the confidence to say, ‘hey, I did this, and I don’t feel good’,” Jay said.

There are ways that students can sneak vapes into the schools and bathrooms, like creating secret flaps in backpacks, hoodies or jackets. In 2019, WALB did a report at Lee County middle school about a rising amount of students getting caught vaping.

In response, the school made penalties more strict. Lee County Schools say vaping is the most common reason students are disciplined.

Raleigh will now spend the rest of his 7th grade year at an alternative school. Leesburg police are investigating the case. Jay said the school plays a part in the solution, but understands they’re in a tough spot.

“I love our administration. We have a lot of open conversations with our administration. They are just as lost as I am and how to fix this problem. They are task is not on educating our children, but also keeping them safe,” Jay Houston said.

Jay Houston shared her story with her Facebook followers. The post has over 700 shares.
Jay Houston shared her story with her Facebook followers. The post has over 700 shares.(WALB)

Houston wants other parents to share Raleigh’s story with their children.

“I wanted them to know that the vape that Raleigh had access to no it’s not a typical vape and if there’s one there’s likely more than one,” Jay said.

Lee County Middle School in a written statement told WALB they are “deeply concerned” about students and their access to vape pens. They add that the school system is actively taking measures to educating their students on making good choices.

The school has debuted a inter-quest detection canines system. Canines on random days will check students for vape devices. The school says there are discussions about having vape detection systems in bathrooms. The principals are also planning trips to Albany’s drug unit exhibit at Thronateeska to show how much damage drugs can cost.