This is called the BORG, which stands for “blackout rage gallon”. This is the latest trend in college drinking. And when you think of drinking alcohol and the words “breakdown”, “rage” and “gallon”, the phrase “in moderation” might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Nonetheless, this trend has, surprise, surprise, gone viral on TikTok with the hashtag #borg getting over 74.7 million views.
Yes, people have been showing off their jugs on TikTok videos, i.e., gallon-sized jugs filled with a mixture of water, alcohol, sweeteners, and alcohol solutions. electrolytes like Pedialyte. They even wrote various BORG names on their jugs. For example, this TikTok video showed a BORG named “Brown vs the BORG of Education” and another wearing “Ron BORGandy” in a very puny way:
And the following TikTok video shows a BORG described as “BORGerline Alcoholic” and another with a little “BORGasm” thrown into it:
So why are so many people looking all-BORG with this trend? Is this just another way for people to get more alcohol into their bodies faster? Well, it is claimed to be a safer way to drink alcohol. The belief is that the water and electrolyte solution would dilute the alcohol and therefore might slow down the rate at which your gastrointestinal tract absorbs alcohol. Those who do the BORG also hope that the water and electrolytes will also reduce your risk of a hangover the next day when the “what did I do” moment comes. So is this really the case? Are these claims BORG out of science, so to speak?
Well, Madison Malone Kircher is reporting for the New York Times quoted a 21-year-old from the University of Louisville as saying, “When I compare BORGs to butts, it doesn’t seem so bad.” That’s not exactly saying much because a lot of things aren’t nearly as bad as twisting your butt. When you’re unhappy with your job, your relationship, or life in general, you’re probably not going to rationalize your situation by saying, “Well, at least it’s not as bad as s ‘take it in the ass.’ If you’ve never heard of chugging, it’s the same as “boofing,” a term that emerged during the 2018 Senate confirmation hearings for then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, as I covered for Forbes at the time. In the end, the boofing discussion didn’t seem to deter Kavanaugh’s confirmation. But I digress.
Back to the BORG identity. It’s not like BORG drinking per se makes drinking alcohol safer. The extra water and electrolyte solution alone will not serve as a vaccine against excessive alcohol consumption. Just look at what happened on November 4th. That’s when a total of 46 University of Massachusetts Amherst students were hospitalized after a BORG drinking challenge during their annual Blarney off-campus blowout, according to Simrin Singh reporting for CBS News. This resulted in the massive mobilization of resources, including 28 ambulances not only in Amherst but also in nearby towns, as noted in a University press release. Although none of the cases turned out to be fatal, the words “28 ambulances” and “everything is fine” do not go together.
This episode of BORGus showed that binge drinking is binge drinking no matter how “sweet” or “lyte” you try to make it. While diluting the alcohol and staying well hydrated can help to some extent, what matters most is the absolute amount of alcohol you drink over time. Assuming you’re not doing something “chugging butt” and instead drinking alcohol by mouth, booze should go through your stomach quickly. There, your stomach absorbs about 20% of the alcohol, allowing much of the remaining 80% to be absorbed via your small intestine into your bloodstream. Unless you’re taking an enema at the same time, which you might dub a “state enema,” the extra water and electrolytes won’t cause much more alcohol to pass through your gastrointestinal tract unabsorbed.
Ultimately, your liver extracts most of the alcohol from your body. Your liver is what metabolizes alcohol, using enzymes to break it down. This usually occurs at the rate of one ounce or the size of a standard drink per hour. A glass is equivalent to 12 ounces of standard beer, 1.5 ounces of 80-degree alcohol or 5 ounces of standard wine.
Drinking more than one drink per hour can overwhelm your liver enzymes, so alcohol stays in your bloodstream and the rest of your body. In such cases, think of your liver as a Black Friday payline. There will be a reserve of alcohol in your bloodstream and throughout your body. This is when you come up with some great ideas, like testing if 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 may be able to more easily count the number of bottles of beer you’ve ever had, it may not be as clear how much alcohol has been put in a BORG. It also may not be clear how the amount you drank from the jug correlates to the amount of alcohol you consumed, unless you are able to do some quick math, which is not not always feasible when you ‘I drink. There can be a lot of “OK, ten percent times a fifth of the jug times, oh, [expletive] he. Let’s drink.” Also, “one-gallon pitchers” don’t usually conjure up the word “sip.” So pouring the contents of the jug into your mouth could give you a pretty significant amount of alcohol, depending on the amount that was mixed into it in the first place.
In addition, any type of “house mix” in poorly prepared and sealed containers poses a risk of contamination. You don’t know what others can put in such containers. Dirty hands handling your jugs could introduce bacteria and other harmful microbes. People can surreptitiously 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 necessary precautions when preparing and transporting a BORG and end up putting much less alcohol in the jug than you would with other drinking activities, then, yes , it might be a relatively safer way to join in the fun. In the end, everything you do should be BORG with reasonable caution and enough knowledge. Therefore, parents and educators need to be aware of all the different possible drinking practices and proactively help students understand all the science behind each one. If you somehow believe that your kids won’t be exposed to all sorts of drinking practices while in college, then you’ve probably forgotten what it was like when you were that age.