‘Borg’ drinking sparks controversy after 28 ambulances were dispatched to UMass

TikTok’s latest trend sends college kids to the hospital

The #Borg trend has generated more than 81 million views on TikTok. Now, it’s wreaking havoc at the University of Massachusetts Amherst — with calls to one local fire department resulting in 28 ambulances being dispatched.

Leave it to social media apps to help create games for college kids, even when they’re clearly risky. This latest trend — “borg” is an acronym for blackout rage gallons — involves filling up (and finishing off) a galloon jug with the goal of blacking out.

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“[The Amherst Fire Department] and UMass officials said many students were observed carrying plastic gallon containers, believed to be ‘borgs,’” the university said in a statement. “in recent weeks, this binge drinking trend has been increasingly depicted on TikTok and seen on college campuses across the country.”

On TikTok, users are encouraged to take a gallon jug of water, pour out half, then mix in vodka and a water enhancer or drink powder, along with some form of caffeine or electrolyte.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted a study in 2019 revealing that 9.8 million young adults between the ages of 18 to 25 engaged in binge drinking activities.

“For parents, if they start seeing changes in behavior of their students that they’ve sent on to college, university, find out how much they’ve been partying because there’s often a deterioration with excessive drinking,” George F. Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at the National Institutes of Health told Good Morning America.

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While it’s hard to protect your child from binge drinking and taking part in other social activities, here are a few ways that’ll tell if they’re abusing alcohol:

  • Mood changes: flare-ups of temper, irritability and defensiveness
  • School problems: poor attendance, low grades, and/or recent disciplinary action
  • Rebellion against family rules
  • Friend changes: switching friends or a reluctance to let you meet those new friends
  • A “nothing matters” attitude: sloppy appearance, a lack of involvement in former interests and general low energy
  • Alcohol presence: finding it in your child’s room or backpack or smelling alcohol on his or her breath
  • Physical or mental problems: memory lapses, poor concentration, bloodshot eyes, lack of coordination, or slurred speech

“I think extra caution is needed this year because I think there is going to be a tendency to let it all hang out, so to speak,” Koob said. “Alcohol is very dangerous past a certain point and so binge drinking is not good for your health. High intensity drinking is not good for your health.”