#BORG party trend continues to put young adults at risk

‘Blackout rage gallon,’ which combines water, alcohol and caffeine in a gallon jug, has sent numerous people to the hospital

BORG — it’s not a ”Star Trek” villain, but rather the latest college party trend. Short for “blackout rage gallon,” the National Capital Poison Center reported the trendy concoction can come with some nasty side effects, including alcohol poisoning and increased cancer risks. It’s already sent dozens to the hospital.

“It’s intended to get you extremely drunk,” Sabrina Grimaldi, editor-in-chief of millennial and Gen Z lifestyle magazine the Zillennial Zine, told CNN.

From “Borganic Chemistry” to “Borgan Donor,” it goes by many names, but the ingredients are often similar. A gallon-size jug is filled halfway with water, up to a fifth of vodka and then enhanced with water flavorings, electrolyte powder and caffeine. The inclusion of water and electrolytes has lulled some drinkers into believing BORG is safe to binge drink.

“Some social media posts claim that borg consumption can reduce the risk of alcohol hangover, since a borg typically contains a half-gallon of water,” the poison center reported. “While hydration may be effective in reducing the signs and symptoms of alcohol hangover, the consumption of large amounts of alcohol can still result in a hangover, even in people who are well-hydrated.”

BORGs can hold up to 17 standard drinks of alcohol, and the gallon-size concoctions are single use to deter drink spiking. Even when consumed over several hours, drinking an entire BORG can be dangerous.

“Similar to binge drinking and alcohol use disorder, frequent borg consumption may increase the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases,” the center said. “In addition, borgs often contain multiple ‘squeezes’ or servings of flavor enhancers that may contain potentially toxic levels of caffeine.”

On TikTok, the #borg trend has garnered tens of millions of views over the past year. The proliferation of BORG recipes on social media has made the drink particularly dangerous.

“Kids see other kids doing it and want to try it themselves,” Anna Lembke, a professor of psychiatry and addiction medicine at Stanford University, told CNN. “That’s another real danger here — to take a dangerous deviant behavior and normalize it by spreading it on social media.”

The mixture’s massive alcohol content, inclusion of potentially hazardous caffeine levels and binge drinking social media trends make it a potent danger. During spring break 2023, dozens of University of Massachusetts Amherst students were hospitalized for drinking “blackout rage gallons.”

According to the latest data available from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 16.4% of U.S. young adults (ages 18 to 25) exhibited alcohol use disorder, and more than half had at least one drink in 2022. In 2023, a Gallup pole revealed that 22% of young drinkers said they consume “more than they think they should.”

People may not be talking about Star Trek’s assimilating villains as much these days, but BORGs (as a party trend) are very much a real danger. Resistance, in this instance, is not futile.