Teen learns lesson after using GHB

Michael Berg, who has done his share of drugs, is warning people against trying GHB — even once.

“It’s not worth what it’s been talked about,” he said.

Sitting in an office at Federal Way High School, where he’s a senior, Berg, 17, described his harrowing experience after he tried GHB for the first time earlier this month.

“I’ve known about (the drug) for a few years, but never really thought about it until it was right in front of me,” he said.

There had been a lot of recent conversation at school about the drug. People had been saying it was a good high, like being drunk, but without the dizziness, nausea and hangover. People had been saying it was the new thing and he should try it.

Some friends came to visit him at home and brought a water bottle containing a clear, corn syrupy liquid. They called it 1,4-B.

Living comfortably

Berg said he’s lived in Federal Way pretty much his whole life. He used to live with his father, but now lives on a farm with his aunt and uncle. They have chickens, goats and cows, and he said they’re getting a pig pretty soon.

His younger brother and sister live with their fathers. She’s in gymnastics and he’s in baseball. Berg said he’s never played any sports.

He said he can’t imagine either of his siblings ever being in a situation similar to the one he just experienced because they’ve seen the consequences of decisions he’s made.

Berg has sandy-blonde, chin-length hair and an unruly chin-strap goatee. He keeps a pair of dark, wraparound sunglasses hooked over the collar of his t-shirt.

He likes to drive fast muscle cars and he likes living in Federal Way. He sees himself living close by in five years.

“I’ll be living — not trying to make it — but living comfortably, with my dream car,” he said.

He’s not going to make graduation this year because he fell behind, but he’d like to get his GED and go to automotive school in California. He also wants to go fishing in Alaska with his grandfather.

Berg’s first experience with marijuana was in the fifth grade. Since then, he’s tried meth, ecstasy, opium, mushrooms and acid. He used drugs because that’s the environment he was in, he said — it’s what the people around him did for entertainment.

But he said he’s done now.

“After this whole thing, I’m off,” he said. “It scared the drugs out of me.”

When he woke up in the hospital, he was surrounded by his whole family and his best friends. That usually only happens on birthdays and Christmas, he said.

“My best friend sat by my side for 21 hours,” he said. “He never went to sleep or anything. When I woke up, he’s the first person I saw. If he’d been there when I was going to take it, he’d have prevented me from taking it, too.”

“I remember staggering around”

Berg had drunk three beers and might have smoked some pot the day his friends brought over the water bottle, but he said he wasn’t worried about adverse reactions because it’d been three hours since his last beer.

He tried the GHB solution, which usually is home-brewed out of chemical solvents, such as engine degreaser, drain cleaner or floor stripper and acid or lye.

“The taste is so god-awful,” he said.

It took about an hour for him to start feeling any of the effects, he said, but then things went downhill quickly.

“I remember staggering around the driveway like I was drunk,” he said.

He went inside to lie down on the couch. The last thing he remembers was telling his 13-year-old cousin not to touch the stuff.

Eighteen hours later, he woke up at St. Francis Hospital.

Berg’s cousin saw him have his first seizure on the couch. His dad was there, as was his best friend, whom Berg evidently had called, and they held him and called 9-1-1 while he continued having seizure after seizure.

Berg died and was resuscitated. He was in a coma for nine hours at the hospital, hooked up to a respirator and with IV lines in his arms. His best friend sat by his bed, waiting to see if he would live or die.

“I’m really lucky,” Berg said. “Hopefully, it just wasn’t my time and I’m supposed to be here longer.”

Staff writer Erica Jahn can be reached at 925-5565 and

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