The dangerous “borg” drinking challenge has gained popularity on the social media platform TikTok, resulting in dozens of students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst being hospitalized over the weekend, officials reported. The borgs, also known as “blackout rage gallons,” consist of one-gallon containers of water emptied to varying extents to make space for alcohol and flavoring. The incident resulted in a total of 46 students being hospitalized, and 28 ambulances were used to transport the students to the hospital. Ambulances from neighboring towns and the regional EMS task force had to be consulted to cater to the high number of students requiring medical aid.
UMass officials confirmed this is the first time notable use of borgs has been observed at the university. However, the trend of making and consuming borgs on college campuses has become increasingly popular, and the hashtag #borg on TikTok has accumulated more than 82.5 million views. The university and town organizations issued a joint statement conveying their interest in considering steps to improve alcohol education and intervention and communicate with students and families.
Experts have raised concerns that the gallon size of borgs may encourage binge drinking, though the addition of water and electrolytes in the mixture could slow down the impact of alcohol or reduce hangovers. Details revealed that one borg could contain more than 16 servings of alcohol, thus making it potentially fatal for the majority of people. Dr. George F. Koob, Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at the National Institutes of Health, expressed his concern to CBS News that consuming such an amount of alcohol would be fatal for most people, even if spread out over a full day.
The educational program on alcohol consumption and the risks of binge drinking mandated all incoming students at UMass has failed to deter students from indulging in the practice. The program includes discussions on the size of standard drinks, physiological and medical risks of binge drinking. However, during the annual “Blarney Blowout” celebrations related to upcoming St. Patrick’s Day, students participated in the unsanctioned event and reportedly indulged in borgs. Amherst police also arrested two students for underage drinking during the incident.
In conclusion, the borg drinking challenge may seem exciting and fun, but the potential health consequences are too severe to ignore. Education on the impact of excessive alcohol consumption is necessary and should be prioritized to reduce the chances of future hospitalizations resulting from borg consumption or binge drinking.