What is a borg? Experts warn viral binge drinking trend is 'extremely dangerous'

Don't believe the hype — experts warn TikTok's "borg" binge drinking trend is "extremely dangerous."

3 photos of college students drinking and preparing a borg, blackout rage gallon, tiktok video screenshots of borgs
A borg, or "blackout rage gallon," is the latest drinking trend sweeping across college and university campuses (photos via TikTok).

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.

If you were to gain access to my (now private) Facebook albums, you could make an educated guess that I've dabbled in King's Cup a time or two. Binge drinking is something of a rite of passage for many in the 18 to 25 cohort, especially if you're living on campus or attending a university party. However, what you won't find in those hidden Facebook albums is a borg. For that, you'll have to venture to TikTok.

A borg, an acronym for "blackout rage gallon," is the latest drinking trend sweeping across college and university campuses (and TikTok feeds) in Canada and the U.S.

Unrelated to its Star Trek origins, the modern-day borg involves mixing a half-gallon of water (1.9 litres) with a half-gallon of alcohol (usually vodka) and an electrolyte flavour enhancer.

'Harm reduction strategy'

Not only does the viral beverage promise drinkers a night of blackout fun sans hangover, but some have even likened it to a "harm reduction strategy."

In one viral video, Erin Monroe, a TikTok creator and substance abuse preventionist, calls the borg an "evolved" way of drinking.

Comparing it to old-school party habits like gin buckets and jungle juice, she says borgs allow students to "[decide] what they're drinking, [keep] it in a closed container, and [bring] it with them everywhere."

"If you pair this with some additional harm reduction, like spacing and pacing your drinking, making sure you have a safe ride home and staying with trusted friends, you're really on your way to doing something pretty solid," she says.

'Extremely dangerous'

While the borg has been heralded by many as a welcome improvement to communal buckets and bathtubs of booze, experts warn the trend can be "extremely dangerous" and promote excessive drinking.

"I can't find an upside to it," Sarah O'Brien, an addiction specialist with Ark Behavioral Health, tells Yahoo Canada.

"I don't think mixing a gallon of liquor with a mixer is good for any communities, especially younger generations," she says. In the quantities presented, "I don't think it can be done safely."

While borgs may be a safer alternative to other college drinking trends, they still encourage binge drinking.

The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction (CCSA) recently updated its alcohol consumption guidelines to recommend no more than two drinks per week, down significantly from its previous cap of 15 drinks for men and 10 drinks for women.

As per CCSA guidelines, a standard drink in Canada is defined as:

  • A 12-oz. (341 ml) bottle of 5 per cent alcohol beer or cider

  • A 5-oz. (142 ml) glass of 12 per cent alcohol wine

  • A 1.5-oz. (43 ml) shot glass of 40 per cent alcohol spirits

1 borg = 40 standard drinks

To put that in perspective, Ark Behavioral Health notes that a typical borg contains almost 40 standard drinks.

"Binge drinking in college can lead to external consequences," O'Brien tells Yahoo Canada.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), about one in four college students miss class, fall behind on schoolwork, or experience other academic problems due to alcohol.

Similarly, students who binge drink at least three times a week are about six times more likely to perform poorly on a test or project compared to students who don't binge drink.

Drinking trends come and go, but there are "a lot of risks when it comes to alcohol consumption and the amount that you're consuming," says O'Brien.

"When the alcohol trumps all the external things, like school or sports, family life, physical appearance or even your health, that's when the questions start to arise."

At the time of publishing, the hashtag #borg has garnered more than 82.2 million views on TikTok.