So long, Solo cup. Today’s college kids are guzzling their booze by the gallon — a move that students swear helps avoid hangovers, and one experts say could have significant health benefits.
Like almost every Gen Z trend, today’s party must-have the Borg — an acronym for blackout rage gallon — started out on social media. An empty jug is filled halfway with water, then topped off with vodka, along with a caffeinated flavor enhancer and a powdered electrolyte garnish.
Not only is TikTok flooded with testimonials from evangelistic, presumably headache-free imbibers, doctors are saying that the shift in habit is a positive sign, citing everything from a potential decrease in drugged cocktails at parties — you carry your personal jug around the party with you — to a greater control over how much alcohol is consumed when you mix the drink yourself, versus blindly guzzling the often unsanitary communal punch at a frat house mixer.
“At first it sounds like a recipe for disaster, but I think it could be looked at as a safer alternative [to binge drinking],” Dr. Tucker Woods, chair of the emergency department at Lenox Health Greenwich Village, told The Post.
“The fact that they’re mixing it in a gallon jug will make it [the alcohol content] more diluted. It’s a safer alternative … because the person is taking control of the alcohol content,” Woods said.
By consuming equal amounts of water and alcohol, he noted, along with the added benefit of electrolytes, imbibers are helping to prevent dehydration.
The Borg trend sloshed its way onto social media in March 2020, and enjoyed considerable popularity during COVID, when many drinkers were looking to socially distance while enjoying a drink with friends. An early TikTok video found by NBC News shows a woman pouring out half a gallon of water and filling the other half with cheap vodka, then sprinkling in Mio Energy, a caffeinated powder that also contains vitamins.
“Want to get drunk with no hangover guaranteed?” user @disneyprincessofdeath captioned her post.
Three years later, and just ahead of spring break, videos touting the new way to get soused continue to flood TikTok — the hashtag #Borg has now garnered 65 million views. Some have mixed their mammoth portions of Tito’s or Skyy vodka with packets of Kool-Aid and Liquid IV, while others have used the energy drink Celsius. Many of the posts show college-aged students appearing to chug the entire gallon at once, suggesting that the use of the word “blackout” in the drink’s name is no accident. That’s binge drinking, and it’s dangerous, experts warn.
Binge drinking is defined as consuming five or more drinks for men or 4 or more drinks for women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thousands of college-aged students are rushed to the emergency room each year for alcohol overdoses, or too much alcohol in the bloodstream, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. An estimated 1,519 college students, ages 18 to 24, die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including car crashes, according to the institute.
“To avoid binge drinking and its consequences, college students (and all people who drink) are advised to track the number of drinks they consume over a given period of time,” the NIAAA notes on its website, which notes a standard drink in the U.S. is one that contains 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol.
Crisis response educator Leigh Beez, who specializes in safe substance use practices, told her TikTok followers that Borgs are being used by her college-aged students as what she calls “harm reduction strategies.”
Still, Woods warns that while the Borg might be a lesser evil than the potentially problematic mystery punch served in a dorm room or at a tailgate party, drinkers should continue to take precautions by knowing their limits.
“Too much of anything can be dangerous. Some people will know their drinking limit, some will add a cup of vodka, but at least you’re able to take control,” she said. “Who wants to drink from a frat house bathtub?”
This article was originally posted by The New York Post.