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Here’s The Latest College Drinking Trend On TikTok And The Dangers

It’s called BORG, which stands for Blackout Rage Gallon. It’s the latest drinking trend in school. And when you think of drinking and the words “blackout,” “anger,” and “gallon,” the phrase “in moderation” might not be the first thing that springs to mind. Despite this, this trend, surprise surprise, has gone viral on TikTok, with the hashtag #borg getting over 74.7 million views.

Yes, people have been showing off their jugs in TikTok videos, meaning gallon-sized jugs filled with a mix of water, alcohol, sweeteners, and electrolyte solutions like Pedialyte. They even wrote different BORG names on their tankards. For example, this TikTok video featured a BORG named “Brown vs. the BORG of Education” and another named “Ron BORGandy” in a very funny way:

And the following TikTok video shows one BORG described as “BORGerline Alcoholic” and another with a little “BORGasm” thrown in:

So why are so many seemingly all BORG with this trend? Is this just another way for people to get more alcohol into their bodies faster? Well, the claim is that it’s a safer way to drink alcohol. The belief is that the water and electrolyte solution could dilute the alcohol and thus slow the rate at which your gastrointestinal tract absorbs the alcohol. Those who do the BORG also hope that the water and electrolytes will also reduce your risk of a later hangover the next day when that “what have I done” moment comes. So is this really the case? Are such claims BORG from science so to speak?

Well, Madison Malone Kircher reports for that New York Times quoted a 21-year-old junior at the University of Louisville as saying, “When I compare BORGs to butt-jerking, it doesn’t seem that bad.” That’s not saying much, because a lot of things aren’t as bad as butts -Chugging. If you’re not happy in your job, in your relationship, or in life in general, you probably won’t rationalize your situation with, “Well, at least it’s not as bad as butt twitching.” If you’ve never heard of butt chugging, it’s the same as “boofing,” a term that came up during the 2018 Senate confirmation hearings for then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, I’ve covered forbes at that time. In the end, the discussion about the buff didn’t seem to get in the way of Kavanaugh’s confirmation. But I digress.

It’s not as if BORG drinking in and of itself would make drinking in college safer. The supplemental water and electrolyte solution alone does not serve as a vaccine against binge drinking. Just look at what happened on November 4th. Back then, a total of 46 students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst were hospitalized after a BORG drinking challenge during their annual off-campus Blarney Blowout, according to Simrin Singh, who reports for CBS News. This led to the mass mobilization of resources, including 28 ambulances, not only in Amherst but also in neighboring cities, according to a university press release. Although none of the cases turned out to be life-threatening, the words “28 ambulances” and “everything’s cool” don’t go together.

This BORGus episode showed that binge drinking is binge drinking, no matter how “cute” or “lyte” you try to make it. While diluting the alcohol and staying well hydrated can help to some degree, what matters most is the absolute amount of alcohol you drink over time. Provided you don’t do any “butt chugging” and instead drink alcohol through your mouth, alcoholic beverages should go up your stomach quickly. There, your stomach absorbs about 20% of the alcohol, allowing much of the remaining 80% to be absorbed into your bloodstream through your small intestine. Unless you also do an enema, which you might call an “enema of the state,” at the same time, the extra water and electrolytes won’t cause much more alcohol to pass through your gastrointestinal tract unabsorbed.

Ultimately, it is your liver that removes most of the alcohol from your body. Your liver metabolizes the alcohol and uses enzymes to break it down. Typically, this occurs at a rate of one ounce, or the size of a standard drink, per hour. One drink is equivalent to 12 ounces of standard beer, 1.5 ounces of 80% spirit, or 5 ounces of standard wine.

Drinking more than one drink an hour can overwhelm your liver’s enzymes, leaving alcohol in your bloodstream and rest of the body. In such cases, think of your liver as a Black Friday checkout line. There will be a reserve of alcohol in your bloodstream and throughout your body. Then you come up with great ideas, like testing whether your head or the wall is stronger.

As you can imagine, it can be more difficult to regulate the amount of alcohol consumed when doing so with a BORG. While you might be better at counting how many bottles of beer you’ve downed, it might not be quite as clear how much alcohol went into a BORG. It also may not be clear how the amount you’ve drunk from the jug correlates to the amount of alcohol you’ve consumed unless you can do quick math, which isn’t always feasible when you’ve drunk. There can be a lot “OK, ten percent times a fifth of the pot times, oh, [expletive] It. Let’s drink.” Also, “gallon jugs” don’t usually conjure up the word “gulp,” so pouring the jug’s contents into your mouth can yield a significant amount of alcohol, depending on how much was originally mixed there.

Additionally, any type of “house mixes” in improperly prepared and sealed containers poses a risk of contamination. You don’t know what other people put in such containers. Dirty hands handling your pitchers could introduce bacteria and other nasty microbes. People can secretly put more alcohol or even other types of drugs into the BORG.

Of course, as Eric Clapton once sang, it’s in the way you do it. If you take the right precautions when preparing and wearing a BORG, and end up using far less alcohol than you would with other drinking activities, then it could be a relatively safer way to participate in the festivities. Ultimately, everything you do should be BORG out of reasonable caution and enough knowledge. Parents and educators should accept the fact that college students will be exposed to all types of drinking practices and that it is important to be proactive in helping students understand all of the science behind the various drinking practices.

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