Nearly 30 college students taken to hospital amid binge-drinking trend known as ‘borg’ at UMass 

  • An Amherst Fire Department ambulance. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Published: 3/4/2023 9:39:25 PM
Modified: 3/4/2023 9:39:10 PM

AMHERST — Nearly 30 college students were transported by ambulance to the hospital on Saturday for alcohol intoxication related to off-campus gatherings on the annual day of celebration known as Blarney Blowout, a celebration traditionally held before St. Patrick’s Day that kicks off spring break.

The Amherst Fire Department said none of the intoxication cases were considered life-threatening.

The department and UMass officials said many students were observed during the day carrying plastic gallon containers, believed to be “borgs,” or blackout rage gallons, a mix of alcohol, electrolytes and water. In recent weeks, this binge drinking trend has been increasingly depicted on TikTok and seen on college campuses across the country. UMass officials said this is the first time the university has observed notable use of borgs.

The Fire Department said they handled requests for 28 ambulance transports, prompting mutual aid and a task force activation for additional resources.

Students gathered in a number of locations in town and joint planning minimized large-scale disturbances. Amherst Police and UMass Police reported two arrests for underage possession of alcohol, and responded to numerous calls for service.

Borgs, which typically contain a fifth of vodka, water, and liquid flavor enhancer, have been around since at least early 2020, when the first recipes for the concoction were posted on the video-sharing app TikTok. The hashtag #borg has garnered more than 74.7 million views on TikTok, according to news media reports.

In recent years, borg consumption has become popular among college students and other individuals who desire a customizable and possibly safer group drinking experience. According to Poison Control, fans of borg drinking claim that its use is associated with a decreased risk of drink spiking and spread of infectious diseases, since the borg is designed for single-person consumption and can be capped shut. In addition, some people believe that alcohol hangovers are less likely to occur in those who drink from a borg.

The drinks are often consumed over the course of a daylong party or tailgate.

Experts warn that borgs often contain large amounts of alcohol that can result in alcohol poisoning, even when consumed over a period of several hours.

UMass officials said they will assess this weekend’s developments and consider steps to improve alcohol education and intervention, and communicate with students and families. Currently, all incoming students participate in required education called, which includes information about the size of standard drinks, and physiological and medical risks of binge drinking.

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