What Is The “BORG” Drinking Trend?

Lauren Smith
Dr. Celeste Small
Written by Lauren Smith on 01 May 2023
Medically reviewed by Dr. Celeste Small on 17 July 2024

Over the last year, videos of college students concocting strong alcoholic beverages in empty gallon jugs dubbed “BORGS" have gone viral on TikTok, spreading a dangerous binge-drinking trend to new campuses and alarming health authorities. BORGs—short for blackout rage gallon—are believed by some students to be a safer, pandemic-friendly alternative to communal punch bowls and a built-in hangover remedy. However, their high alcohol and caffeine content leaves the user at risk of severe intoxication, alcohol poisoning, accidents, and other drinking hazards.

What Is The “BORG” Drinking Trend?

What is BORG drinking?

A blackout rage gallon, or BORG for short, is an alcoholic beverage mixed in an empty gallon jug. It’s usually a mixture of water, sweet flavoring, electrolyte drinks or powder, caffeine, and alcohol, typically vodka and ranging from a few shots to a half gallon.[1,]  One TikTok video claims it's a "hack to drink a bunch, have a crazy night, and not feel terrible the next day."

Students frequently decorate their BORG jugs and give them punny names like “SpongeBorg,” “Our Borg and Savior,” and “The Borg Who Lives,” a nod to Harry Potter. They then tote them to tailgates, outdoor events, and all-day parties, popularly known as “darties,” and drink from them over the course of hours.

Similar drinking methods have been reported for years but the BORG trend exploded in 2022, possibly popularised by concerns about sharing drinks during the coronavirus pandemic and boosted by viral TikTok content. Videos hashtagged #BORG have topped 170 million views on TikTok.

What goes in a BORG?

BORGs usually consist of liquor, flavoring to mask the taste, water and electrolytes to reduce the severity of hangovers, and caffeine so the drinker can keep partying.

In an “elite BORG tutorial” posted in January and viewed more than three million times, a TikToker at the University of Texas at Austin guides viewers through making a “BORG that actually tastes good.” Her recipe calls for a gallon jug of water, partly emptied; a third to half of a handle of Tito’s vodka; MiO water enhancer for flavor; a can of the sparking energy drink Celsius; and Liquid IV “so we don’t get hungover.” 

Related: EtOH Abuse

Other BORG recipes call for sugar-free Red Bull, Kool-Aid, Crystal Lite natural juices, and different electrolyte packets. Some students have become plastic jug mixologists, combining flavors of MiO, energy drinks, and liquor to make BORGS that taste like sour green apple Jolly Ranchers and orange creamsicles.

But the most important ingredient is a large volume of alcohol, usually vodka although rum and tequila are also used. The quantities vary. While TikTok harm reduction advocate Erin Monroe has shared a recipe calling for just four standard drinks’ worth of liquor, most recipes call for significantly more. BORGS are most commonly made with a full fifth of liquor or 16 standard drinks. However, some recipes call for far more: up to a half gallon, or 43 standard drinks, an amount that could be fatal, even if spread out over an entire day.

What are the dangers of BORG drinking?

Students sometimes believe BORGs are a safer drinking method. However, health officials have warned against this misconception, arguing that BORGs facilitate binge drinking and can leave students unknowingly consuming hazardous, even fatal, amounts of alcohol

The main risk from BORG drinking is the sheer volume of alcohol the mixes contain. Consuming large quantities of alcohol, even alongside water and across many hours, can lead to severe intoxication, with a cascade of harmful outcomes, including the blackouts and memory loss that the BORG name promises, alcohol poisoning, injuries, car accidents, sexual assault, emergency room visits, fights, and death.

Related: Alcohol and Physical Health

Another risk comes from the caffeine added to many BORG drinks. Some recipes call for up to 1000mg of caffeine or the equivalent of 10 cups of coffee. High levels of caffeine can mask the depressant effects of alcohol, making users feel less intoxicated and more alert and potentially prompting them to drink more alcohol, the CDC notes.

The BORG fad has already been linked to hospitalizations. Over one weekend in March 2023, at least 46 students at the University of Massachusetts were taken to emergency rooms after participating in the BORG trend.

Could BORG drinking be a harm reduction strategy?

Some partiers and harm reduction advocates argue that BORGs are actually a safer way of consuming alcohol. Specifically, they say that BORGs eliminate the risks of sharing beverages and drinking from a communal punch bowl or vats of “jungle juice,” including passing along viruses such as COVID-19 and consuming a beverage of unknown potency. 

If you prepare your own BORG and only drink from it all night, you’ll know exactly how much alcohol you’re taking in, they argue. Additionally, BORGS have caps, reducing the risk of drinks being spiked with additional alcohol or date rape drugs such as GHB. Additionally, consuming water and electrolytes can reduce the severity of hangovers.

However, health experts and university administrators have argued that the way BORGs are usually concocted and consumed, with very high quantities of alcohol, offsets these health benefits.

The discourse around BORGs as a safe alternative is “promoting false ideas about drinking,” Dr. Sarah Andrews, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University who specializes in alcohol abuse, told The New York Times.

“Just because you know what is in [a BORG jug] doesn’t mean that you truly understand the negative effects it could have,” she added. “Even if it’s mixed with electrolytes, it doesn’t offset the alcohol content. It doesn’t offset the dangerousness of the alcohol.”

Resources:

  1. What is a “borg” and why should college parents know about it? (n.d.). .
  2. What’s a borg? The latest college drinking trend, explained. (n.d.). .
  3. Buoy on TikTok. (n.d.). TikTok. Retrieved May 3, 2023, from
  4. 10 Funny Borg Names That’ll Make You The Belle Of The Borg. (2023, April 15). Spoon University.
  5. Kircher, M. M. (2023, March 9). What Is a Blackout Rage Gallon. The New York Times.
  6. uh on TikTok. (n.d.). TikTok. Retrieved May 3, 2023, from
  7. Mason, J. (2023, March 13). What are some of the most popular borg recipes? The Drinks Business.
  8. 5 Borg Recipes To Try Out ASAP. (2023, February 13). .
  9. Erin Monroe on TikTok. (n.d.). TikTok. Retrieved May 3, 2023, from
  10. CDC - Fact Sheets-Caffeine and Alcohol- Alcohol. (2019). CDC.
  11. “Borg” TikTok Drinking Trend Send Dozens of UMass Students to Hospital. (2023, March 10). Campus Safety Magazine.

Activity History - Last updated: 17 July 2024, Published date:


Reviewer

Dr. Celeste Small

Pharm.D, RPh.

Celeste Small, PharmD. is a licensed and practicing pharmacist and medical writer who specializes in different substances, the effects of substance abuse, and substance use disorder.

Activity History - Medically Reviewed on 27 April 2023 and last checked on 17 July 2024

Medically reviewed by
Dr. Celeste Small

Pharm.D, RPh.

Dr. Celeste Small

Reviewer

Ready to talk about treatment? Call us today. (855) 648-7288
Helpline Information
Phone numbers listed within our directory for individual providers will connect directly to that provider.
Any calls to numbers marked with (I) symbols will be routed through a trusted partner, more details can be found by visiting https://recovered.org/terms.
For any specific questions please email us at info@recovered.org.

Related articles