With BORGs, Is Gen Z Mixing Binge Drinking and... Wellness?

With BORGs, Is Gen Z Mixing Binge Drinking and… Wellness?

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I’m young! I’m hip! I know what a BORG is! I didn’t have to Google to discover that it’s an acronym meaning “black out rage gallon,” and that phrase didn’t make me clutch my pearls, thank you very much. For the uninitiated, a BORG is the latest binge-drinking trend on college campuses (and TikTok feeds) nationwide. It’s made in a gallon jug using a half-gallon of water, up to an entire bottle of your alcohol of choice, and some kind of electrolyte additive like Liquid IV or Pedialyte, which is meant to head off tomorrow’s hangover. Some also opt for a dose of caffeine—maybe a can of your preferred energy drink. “It’s three ingredients, and it gets you really fucked up,” as TikTok user Sarahhands helpfully explains in a BORG tutorial.

The (debatable) genius of a BORG is that it’s large enough to last an entire day, and, because of the water and electrolytes, it can ostensibly ensure you stay hydrated while drinking, proactively eliminating any hangover the next morning. This is, at least, the argument of the endless grid of TikTokers enthusiastically mixing their BORGs. This kind of forethought and wellness-centered (?) thinking is a far cry from the binge drinking of years past when Four Loko was the drink of choice and drinking games like Edward Fortyhands allowed imbibers to get drunk as quickly as humanly possible regardless of the consequences. Gen Z may not have invented binge drinking, but they’re changing the genre as we know it.

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Although college-aged students’ binge drinking is a long and time-honored tradition, in recent years it’s been reported that alcohol consumption in America is down across the board, but especially for Gen Z. Many people in this age group are interested in a low or no-alcohol lifestyle, according to a recent study. At the same time, reports show Gen Z is prioritizing wellness. This is playing out in the beverage world, where aisles are infested with drinks that claim to calm you down, hype you up, and regulate your gut bacteria. The BORG—a drink specifically built to sidestep a hangover, and created to indulge in binge drinking while staying hydrated—is the perfectly logical intersection of peak wellness culture and college binge drinking. 

Some drinking-elders are lauding BORG culture. “I like the BORG as a harm reduction strategy,” says TikTok creator and substance abuse preventionist Erin Monroe in one video. In addition to hydrating on the go, she says, you can track how much you’ve had to drink, and since you’re carrying it around with a cap on, you can make sure no one slips something into your drink. It’s safer than chugging cup after cup of an unknown formulation of communal jungle juice, as millennials were wont to do in their heyday. “I am so proud of you, Gen Z,” says another creator, Brit Culp-Sapp, who calls herself a millennial and an alcohol and drug counselor. “The Gen Xers and the millennials definitely made some way more questionable decisions about what we were drinking.”