Health experts issue warning on dangerous Gen-Z ‘BORG’ drinking trend

Health experts have issued a warning on the dangerous BORG - also known as “blackout rage gallons” - drinking trend popularised by Gen Z college students.

According to the National Capital Poison Center, BORG drinking typically takes place at day parties, popularly known as “darties,” with participants carrying around a gallon-sized plastic jug that has a powerful alcoholic concoction inside.

Consisting of vodka or some other distilled alcohol as well as water, a flavor enhancer, and an electrolyte powder or drink, there’s usually far more alcohol in the jugs than the other ingredients, so much so that experts have dubbed it “life-threatening.”

“Drinking one can lead to potentially life-threatening consumption and alcohol poisoning,” Stanford psychiatry and addiction medicine professor Dr Anna Lembke explained to CNN.

Unlike its long-reigning jungle juice counterpart, usually a party-sized mix meant for all, BORGs are meant for personal use. However, the end goal is ultimately the same - to get you extremely drunk.

“A BORG often contains a fifth [25.6 fluid ounces or 3.2 cups] of vodka or other hard alcohol, which is about 17 standard drinks, which is a massive amount of alcohol.”

Dr Lembke credits BORG drinking’s rise with “social contagion,” made all the worse by the omnipresence of social media like TikTok.

“Kids see other kids doing it and want to try it themselves,” she said. “That’s another real danger here — to take a dangerous deviant behavior and normalize it by spreading it on social media.”

The 24-year-old creator and editor-in-chief of The Zillennial Zine, Sabrina Grimaldi, noted she first heard of the trend when one of her interns - Kelly Xiong, 21 - pitched a story about the binge-drinking phenomenon’s popularity.

As someone who hadn’t been in the “college party scene” in five years, it baffled her just how much had changed in such a short time. She said, “Even though Kelly and I are so close in age, it’s crazy how these microtrends pop up.”

Xiong discovered the burgeoning popularity of BORG drinking when she went to a St Patrick’s block darty, noting that nearly everyone carried around gallons filled with their own concoctions. She told the outlet that BORGs were especially popular during “special occasion darties,” typically celebrating holidays or outdoor events.

The popularity of BORGs has become widespread, frequently making headlines for being linked to the hospitalization of hard-partying students. In 2023, dozens of University of Massachusetts Amherst students - who reportedly carried BORGs - were hospitalized after an off-campus event.

BORGs have not only become popular with the college party scene but also have trickled down to the high school set, with students reportedly drawn to the creative aspect of making your own BORG.

All over TikTok, BORG videos abound with various jugs bearing pun-inspired monikers including Captain Borgan, Borgan Donor and Borgan Wallen.

“You have to name your BORG and get creative by writing the name on it with a Sharpie,” a high school senior named Virginia said. However, she noted that she was aware how it was more difficult to regulate your alcohol intake, especially since many freehand the amount of alcohol they put in. “Nobody is really rationing how much they’re going to drink.”

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the average drink in the US contains 1 to 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, 5 ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer. Men and women have different drinking standards, with experts saying it’s considered binge-drinking if a woman drinks more than four standard drinks and a man drinks more than five over a two-hour time frame.