Young Adult Mental Health & Substance Abuse Treatment Centers

BORG drinking at a college party

What Is Borg Drinking, the Latest TikTok Trend?

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The world of TikTok can be a mystifying and bizarre place. Trends sweep through the social media app like wildfire. Some of these trends—like dance challenges and lip sync videos—are cute and funny. But many of the trends, are mystifying, bizarre, and even, like the recent borg trend, dangerous.

Remember the Tide Pod challenge? This was a social media trend from several years ago that encouraged app users to bite into a Tide Pod laundry capsule before spitting it out. People actually died from doing this challenge.

The borg trend is also potentially fatal. In this challenge, young adults—mostly college students—mix homemade cocktails in a gallon jug. While borg drinking may sound new, it’s actually a thinly disguised way of engaging in binge drinking.

Key Takeaways

  • Borg (“Blackout rage gallon”) drinking is a new binge-drinking trend impacting college students and other young adults.
  • A borg is a homemade cocktail mixed in a gallon container, including various amounts of water, flavor enhancement, electrolytes, caffeine, and alcohol.
  • Binge drinking is a growing problem among young adults and is often a result of untreated mental health issues.
  • Newport Institute’s substance abuse treatment helps young adults address the underlying causes of alcohol and drug abuse.

What Is a BORG?

Borg is an acronym that stands for “blackout rage gallon.” As the name implies, it’s an alcoholic mixture in a gallon jug. And it started out as a TikTok craze. The concoction typically includes a cocktail of part water, part alcohol (often vodka), part powdered or liquid flavor enhancer, and part electrolytes. The mixture is tailored to the maker’s taste and is meant to reduce hangovers. Gen Zers are using borgs at mixers, tailgate parties, and outdoor parties.

The trend began in the wake of social distancing, when sharing drinks became a riskier option. Since then, it’s been touted as a safer alternative to regular drinks, because the amount and type of alcohol and other contents can be controlled.

But the borg trend isn’t safe, and it isn’t really new. College students have been mixing alcoholic beverages together—and drinking too much—for a long time. From party bowls of punch to mixing cocktails in a water bottle, young adults have always found ways to consume large quantities of alcohol.

Know the Facts

Worldwide, 40% of TikTok users are between the ages of 18 and 24. In the United States, this number is closer to 60%. Hence, the most dangerous trends on TikTok impact this age group the most.


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Is Borg Drinking Dangerous?

TikTok videos explaining the BORG trend and how to do it make it sound easy and safe. One user says she’s seen people putting a fifth of alcohol into their borg, but she doesn’t recommend that. Instead, she says four or five drinks is the right amount for her.

While this might sound responsible to other college students, consuming four to five drinks in a day falls under the definition of binge drinking, according to the CDC. Specifically, four drinks for women and five drinks for men is considered binge drinking. But many followers of the borg trend think this is a reasonable amount of alcohol.

Moreover, while many borg drinkers may stop at four to five ounces of alcohol, many won’t. Since the brains of teens and young adults aren’t fully developed, self-regulation is a challenge for this age group. And even if there’s a minimal amount of alcohol in the gallon, that doesn’t make it safe.

The Risks of Borg Drinking

Many borg drinkers may look at their homemade BORG and assume they’re being responsible by adding water and electrolytes to balance out some of the damage of liquor. And in fact, many harm reduction experts speak to the benefits of using a borg. It allows drinkers to control their drinking pace and contents, for example. And because it’s a closed container, it may be less easy for predators to spike a borg.

While harm reduction is a great stance to take when helping people who are struggling with alcohol abuse, the fact is that borg drinking is very dangerous for college students and young adults. Borgs can be consumed too quickly, or compromised by someone else. Additionally, the drinker can add more alcohol at any time if they decided it’s not strong enough.

Borg drinkers may assume the presence of water and electrolytes in their gallon cocktail makes them less dangerous. But they’re wrong. Hospitals and ERs are seeing an increased number of patients who’ve been admitted as a result of borg drinking.

BORG drinking can lead to:

  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of memory
  • Unconsciousness
  • Increased risk of violence or assault (as both perpetrator and victim)

Why Do Young Adults Binge Drink or Drink Borgs?

Binge drinking among young men and young women is on the rise. Drinking frequently begins in adolescence. When young adults binge drink, there may be several factors at play. College atmospheres often encourage heavy drinking. Young adults may drink to socialize and feel part of their community.

While men are slightly more likely to binge drink in college than women, they are more than twice as likely to binge drink as women once they reach their 20s and 30s. The reasons for binge drinking or drinking borgs are often related to mental health. Young men in particular aren’t encouraged to be vulnerable or show signs of having a tough time. Instead, they’re told to “man up.” As a result of this negative social conditioning, many men who are experiencing anxiety, depression, trauma, or some other mental health use alcohol and substance abuse to cope.

Alcohol abuse is rising among women, too. While men are more likely to binge drink, women are increasingly likely to drink and get drunk, which can lead to alcohol use disorder. Women abuse alcohol for similar reasons as men: as an self-destructive coping mechanism for distressing thoughts and emotions.

While there are some gender differences in mental health, people of all genders are at risk of using binge drinking or borg drinking to cope with trauma, anxiety, depression, loneliness, grief, and other mental health issues.

Day after BORG drinking

The Underlying Causes of Alcohol Abuse

Young adults have a lot on their plate. They are facing generational and societal traumas like gun violence, systemic racism, increased sexual assaults, isolation and pandemic-related stresses, financial worries, and climate change. Society, however, is slow to respond to the growing need for additional mental health resources for young people.

More and more, young people turn to drinking to cope with the stresses of their lives. As mental health concerns get worse, so does alcohol abuse. In order to improve young adult mental health and decrease substance abuse, college students and other Gen Z need healthy coping mechanisms and strategies to express and process their experiences, so they can drink less in college.

Treatment for Alcohol Abuse at Newport Institute

Our approach to young adult alcohol abuse treatment at Newport Institute is integrated, compassionate, and gender responsive according to each individual’s gender identity. The expert clinical teams at our residential programs and outpatient programs develop a personalized treatment plan for each young adult. Treatment includes individual, group, and family therapy, experiential programs, and peer camaraderie. Our tailored treatment supports young adults to find healing in all facets of their life.

Young adults in Newport Institute treatment programs experience:

  • Dedicated treatment teams who work together to foster healing and growth
  • Doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, individual and family therapists, and other healthcare professionals to assist in their healing journey
  • Healthy coping skills for dealing with the stresses and challenges of today’s world
  • Trauma and mental health support
  • Alcohol and substance abuse counseling  
  • Opportunities to build community and connect with others.

Start the healing journey today: Contact us for a free young adult mental health assessment.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is borg drinking?
  • What does borg stand for?
  • How much alcohol is in a borg?
  • What does borging do to people?

Innovative Higher Education. 2021; 46: 519–538.

Co-Occurring Disorders / March 9, 2023