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Borg—TikTok’s binge drinking trend—is blamed for putting college students in the hospital

Photo Illustration by Fortune; Getty Images

Key takeaways

  • Borgs, also known as “blackout rage gallons,” are plastic gallon containers filled with a mix of alcohol, water, and electrolytes.

  • Diluting the alcohol can make people falsely assume they aren’t drinking as much as they really are.

  • Borgs typically contain a fifth of alcohol, which equates to roughly 16 drinks.

College campuses' latest party trend may be to blame for putting students in danger, a university warns.

Officials at the University of Massachusetts Amherst announced Saturday that its fire department handled 28 ambulances linked to "a significant number of alcohol intoxication cases."

That night, students were seen “carrying plastic gallon containers, believed to be ‘borgs.’”

These containers, also known as “blackout rage gallons,” contain a mix of alcohol, water, and electrolytes. The #borg TikTok trend, which has accumulated over 82 million views, depicts people dumping out about half of the gallon’s water and filling it up with alcohol, typically a liquor like vodka, along with juice or electrolytes.

“It’s essentially a hack to drink a bunch, have a crazy night, and not feel terrible about it the next day,” one TikToker explains as they assemble their concoction, which includes a full fifth of alcohol. “Gen Z just like drinks this.”

A fifth of alcohol equates to roughly 16 drinks, Nicole Barr, a direct services coordinator at the University of North Carolina Wilmington's Abrons Student Health Center, tells CBS News.

Partygoers have swapped the red Solo cup and jungle juice for the gallon, in part because it allows people to make their drink for the night themselves. This, in turn, can reduce the dangers of open containers and relying on others to craft your beverage.

Students across TikTok additionally tout the borg as a responsible way to drink to lessen the hangover, due to its inclusion of water and electrolytes like Liquid I.V., according to videos across social media.

However, diluting the alcohol can make people falsely assume they aren’t drinking as much as they really are, especially for people who add caffeine, George F. Koob, the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at the National Institutes of Health, tells Good Morning America. But there are safer ways to drink, and the alcohol in something as hefty as a borg will still have drastic effects.

“Unless you're the one that mixed the borg and you know exactly how much alcohol you're dispensing, it's probably easy to overdo it,” he says. Even if you’re mixing it, the concept of the “blackout rage gallon” promotes a new way to binge drink—which puts people at risk for a myriad of health dangers, including alcohol poisoning, high blood pressure, and inflammation, and puts campuses at higher risk for sexual assault, drunk driving, and misconduct.

While the benefits of the borg’s lid container and diluted alcohol content can seem like the new gold standard, these recent incidents shed light on taking online drinking trends seriously and educating college students on safe practices. About 80% of college students drink alcohol, with an estimated 50% of that group engaging in binge drinking, according to the Alcohol Rehab Guide. 

“UMass officials said this is the first time the university has observed notable use of borgs,” the University of Massachusetts statement read. “They will assess this weekend's developments and consider steps to improve alcohol education and intervention, and communicate with students and families.”

None of the incidents at the university this past weekend were life-threatening, officials report.

This story was originally featured on Fortune.com

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