scorecardJungle Juice, Power Hour, Edward Forty Hands: BORGs are simply the Gen Z version of an age-old college tradition — getting blackout drunk as quickly as possible.
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Jungle Juice, Power Hour, Edward Forty Hands: BORGs are simply the Gen Z version of an age-old college tradition — getting blackout drunk as quickly as possible.

Hannah Getahun   

Jungle Juice, Power Hour, Edward Forty Hands: BORGs are simply the Gen Z version of an age-old college tradition — getting blackout drunk as quickly as possible.
LifeThelife3 min read
  • BORGs — or black-out rage gallons — have made appearances at US college campuses.
  • The gallon jugs of alcohol have resulted in injuries and hospitalizations.

A viral gallon mix of electrolytes, flavoring, water, and tons of booze — known as the Black Out Rage Gallon, or BORG — has taken over the internet and the Gen Z frat scene.

The drink mix plays on an old concept — young adults getting as drunk as possible, as quickly as possible. Gen Z and older proponents say that the challenge is actually risk averse compared to millennial or Gen X drinking habits — like drinking out of trash cans or taping beers to your hands and chugging them — and can be a harm-reduction strategy. Some also claim that it can cure hangovers, but experts have refuted this claim.

"I am so proud of you, Gen Z," Brit Culp-Sapp, a millennial TikTok creator said. "The Gen Xers and the millennials definitely made some way more questionable decisions about what we were drinking."

The jugs, marked with "BORG" puns in sharpies and often found at college "darties," or day parties, have resulted in dozens of UMass students going to the hospital after a party. Experts say that the copious amount of alcohol in the jugs — sometimes up to 17 shots — can result in serious injury or alcohol poisoning.

"It's another trend and another spin on drinking trends in the college-aged students," Dr. Sarah Andrews, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins Medicine, told Insider.

"And one of my biggest concerns was the amount of alcohol that's in one of these BORGs, and the need to bring one's own alcohol with you to your party in college, because it's just kind of expected that people will be drinking as much, as heavily."

College-aged students across the board are prone to binge drinking, studies show

Gen-Z isn't alone in its not-so-smart drinking habits. For decades, research has found that college-aged adults in previous generations are at higher risk for engaging in binge drinking.

"That age group you have not as strong executive functioning, so decision-making skills," Andrews said. "The amount of alcohol can that's available can be very challenging within the college atmosphere as well... and a lot of college students have unstructured time, so they might be able to sleep in the next day. They don't have as many responsibilities as other populations might have."

Studies show that young adults leaving home to go to college and increased independence affects how much alcohol young people consume.

College students between the ages of 18 and 24 are more likely to binge drink than their non-college peers, studies from the American Addiction Centers show. These drinking habits resulted in an estimated 1,519 deaths of college students a year between 1998 and 2005.

College drinking is often associated with other problems such as violence, sexually transmitted diseases, and sexual assault.

Patterns of binge drinking associated with bad outcomes were the result of college-specific activities like fraternity and sorority events, on-campus living, and spring break trips.

One aspect of college drinking unique to Gen Z and millennials is social media's role in drinking trends. The popularity of BORGs increased because of TikTok, where young adults share BORG recipes and clips of them joyfully chugging their concoctions, usually without showing the negative effects these drinks could have, Andrews said.

"I think that part is very challenging. It's kind of almost an expected thing to do," Andrews said.

Despite the BORG craze, young people are drinking less than they used to

Reports of BORGs on college campuses may make it appear that binge drinking among young people is on the rise, but data shows otherwise.

The University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future study, one of the most comprehensive data sets on youth drinking up to 2017, found that Millennials and Gen Z are drinking less than Boomers and Gen X did at their age. Another study in JAMA Pediatrics found that the number of college students in the US who have reported that they do not drink increased from 20% to 28% between 2002 and 2018.

The trend, often dubbed the "sober curious movement," comes at a time when more research indicates a bevy of health problems associated with heavy drinking and has given rise to an industry catering to young adults that don't want to drink and includes influencer-promoted nonalcoholic cocktails and sober bars cropping up across the country.

Andrews said that time will tell if these Gen Z and millennial drinking habits will result in better outcomes for college students, like fewer deaths of college-aged students due to alcohol or assaults on campus.

"I think it's great that people are being more aware of it, and how it can affect the body and the amount that they're doing," Andrews said. "It's just how much does that awareness then translate into changes in behavior?"




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