Doctors warn college students: Beware the ‘borg’

A "blackout rage gallon," or a borg, is a gallon jug filled with water, vodka, a caffeinated drink, water flavoring, and liquid IV.

For college students across the country, the days of Jungle Juice and Faderade are over. Now, many party-goers are lugging around a new type of drink: borgs. And doctors are worried.

A “blackout rage gallon,” or a borg, is a gallon jug filled with water, vodka, a caffeinated drink, water flavoring, and liquid IV. And while college students have praised the concoction for maintaining hydration and awareness, doctors see it as just another form of irresponsible drinking.

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“In general, when a patient comes to the emergency department because of binge drinking, its because they are no longer able to function.” Dr. Gus Colangelo, an Emergency Medicine physician at Tufts Medical Center, told “And this is not uncommon with borgs, because people have this perception … that the additional contents of the borg are somehow going to protect them from the toxic effects of the alcohol.”


The concern is not that students are still binge drinking — doctors have mostly given up on that losing battle — it’s that because students think borgs are a healthier alternative, they are likely to use it more irresponsibly than other types of drinks.

“I have concerns that students are going to underestimate the risks of binge drinking because [the borg] carries this aura of a healthy method,” Dr. Colangelo said.

Colangelo pointed out that the despite the arguments backing the borg, consuming eight to 16 shots of vodka is a risk regardless of the rest of the contents in the borg.


“People have this feeling that it’s safer because they feel that they are keeping themselves hydrated,” Colangelo said. “They feel that there’s caffeine in there, so they’ll be more alert. There’s electrolytes in there, so they feel like they won’t have a hangover the next day. But none of those additional contents of the borg are going to protect from the toxic effects.”

And this is a concern echoed by other health professionals, like Dr. Christopher Baugh, who specializes in emergency medicine and cardiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.


“I think the strategy of, ‘I know I’m going to overdo it so I’m going to protect myself,’ is just fraught with danger,” Dr. Baugh said. “Because if you miscalculate, you could really hurt yourself.”

While borg drinkers also argue that they are in full control of what is in their drink and who has access to it, Colangelo says these arguments are filled with holes. He points out that students continue to pass borgs around to their friends, and because the container is heavier than a normal drink or can, students are more likely to want to put it down — increasing the risk of someone spiking the drink.

“The only safe borg is a borg that has no alcohol in it,” Colangelo says. “There is no safe method of binge drinking, and a borg is just a new mechanism for an old practice.”


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