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Dangerous TikTok trend or harm reduction help? Gen Z drinking 'borg' liquor concoctions by the gallon

Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

"Borgs," also known as "blackout rage gallons," have gone viral on college campuses, and experts disagree on whether the trend is dangerous or actually reduces drinking-related harms.

Some experts say college students guzzling liquor and caffeinated electrolyte flavor enhancer concoctions by the gallon is actually better than other alternatives. Others say no matter what you mix it with, alcohol is alcohol, and drinking too much can be deadly.

Borgs are made by filling an empty gallon jug half with water and half with vodka (or other liquor of choice). Flavor enhancers with electrolytes like Liquid IV or MiO, sometimes caffeinated, are added to the jug, too, Delish explains.

Solo cups are out as personal borg gallons have become staples at college parties. Gen Z TikTok users swear by them, insisting they prevent hangovers.

The basic idea is to get drunk while staying hydrated.

“When it comes to substance use prevention, harm reduction recognizes that people are going to make their own decisions when it comes to alcohol and other drugs,” Erin Monroe, a creator who is credentialed in substance use prevention in New York, told NBC News.

Giving drinkers "complete control" over what they're drinking, allows self-pacing, Monroe also told the outlet. Monroe described borgs as "really solid harm reduction," adding that pairing it with other harm reduction tactics like designated drivers is also helpful.

Communal drinking, understandably, went out of favor during the pandemic. Borgs are meant for a single person, so in that sense, there is a reasonable argument to be made that borgs add least a modicum of safety compared with, say, drinking out of a bathtub with a hundred other party-goers.

Other experts, like Gus Colangelo, MD, Emergency Medicine Physician at Tufts Medical Center, disagrees with colleagues like Monroe who tout the harm reduction advantages in drinking borgs.

“In my opinion, it actually makes it more dangerous,” Colangelo told Boston 25 News Thursday.

Colangelo calls the very nature of drinking borgs "uncontrolled."

“If you take a fifth of vodka, which is about 16 shots, and pour that into a half a gallon of water with some electrolytes, it doesn’t absolve the fact that you’re still drinking 16 shots of vodka,” he explained.

He added that on Friday and Saturday nights, from 30% to 70% of patients in the Emergency Department are there due to binge drinking-related complications.

Borgs became popular on social media during the pandemic, and are now viral on TikTok. A quick search of the Chinese-owned, video-based platform yields seemingly endless pages of results.

The top result is from an account called "bellaaalonzo." The 59-second video has yielded 1.7 million views since it was posted on January 31. In the video, a young woman in a colorful cowboy hat, apparently a college student at University of Texas in Austin, teaches viewers "how to make a BORG that actually tastes good (heart attack in a jug)."

Bellaaalonzo's particular mix includes roughly a half gallon of water, 1/3 of a bottle of Tito's vodka, a five-second squirt from a container of MiO, a can of sparkling wild berry flavor Celsius energy drink, and a packet of Liquid IV "so we don't get hungover."


How to make a BORG that actually tastes good (heart attack in a jug) happy snow day! #snowday #darty #borg #celsiuslivefit #utaustin #atx

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