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The drinking trend entails mixing and drinking gallon jugs with a mix of alcohol, electrolytes, flavoring, and water, known as “blackout rage gallons” or BORGs. The university said students were observed carrying these jugs of alcoholic drink mix on Saturday during the annual “Blarney Blowout,” an unsanctioned drinking party that precedes St. Patrick’s Day.
According to UMass officials, there were so many calls for ambulances for student alcohol intoxication over the weekend that neighboring agencies were called in to assist. The Amherst Fire Department said none of the calls were for life-threatening cases.
The university said this is the first time they had observed widespread use of BORGs at off-campus parties.
UMass Police also reported two arrests for underage drinking over the weekend.
The university said it plans to assess the widespread drinking behavior related to the “Blarney Blowout” events and increase efforts to educate students. The university already teaches incoming students about the physiological and medical risks of binge drinking.
The “Blarney Blowout” typically begins on the weekend before the UMass spring break, which also coincides with St. Patrick’s Day. This year’s UMass spring break runs from March 12 to 19.
Dozens of posts on the TikTok app describe these BORG drinks. In one video, a TikTok user said he couldn’t taste the alcoholic content of his drink mix and said, “I now see why BORG stands for ‘ blackout rage gallon,’ because this is a recipe for blacking out,” before encouraging the app’s users to follow him for more alcoholic drink recipes.
The increased palatability of an alcoholic drink can lead to people drinking it faster, and therefore consuming a higher amount of alcohol.
“As with any other vehicle for consuming alcohol, the risks will primarily depend on how much alcohol a person consumes and how quickly they consume it,” Dr. George F. Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at the National Institutes of Health, told CBS News in a recent interview on the BORG drinking trend.
“Quite simply, as alcohol consumption goes up, so do the risks of injuries, fights, sexual assaults, emergency department visits, blackouts, car crashes, and other harms,” Koob added.
Concerns Over Viral TikTok Trends
TikTok has become widely popular among teenagers and young adults. The social media app, which centers around short video content, has helped some internet trends gain broader attention.
One trend that caught viral attention on TikTok last year showed users how to break into and steal a number of different Kia and Hyundai models that were built between 2010 and 2021 that feature the same vulnerability, which allows people to steal them with simple tools and a USB cable. That TikTok trend coincided with a spike in thefts of Kias and Hyundais.
Another trend challenged TikTok users to hold their breath until they lost consciousness. One 10-year-old child died while attempting this breath-holding challenge and her mother filed a lawsuit against the social media platform, which is owned by the Chinese parent company ByteDance. The mother, Tawainna Anderson, alleged the social media platform was programmed to be addictive and was “programming children” for profits.
“The algorithm is designed and employed to achieve a singular ultimate goal: increase corporate profits. The TikTok Defendants’ app and algorithm seeks to show users videos and content designed to keep users engaged and glued to the app where they are encouraged only to participate more,” Anderson’s lawsuit reads. “[TikTok’s] algorithm determined that the deadly Blackout Challenge was well-tailored and likely to be of interest to 10-year-old Nylah Anderson, and she died as a result.”
A 12-year-old boy in Oklahoma died a year earlier while attempting the same “blackout” challenge.
TikTok recently announced a 60-minute screen time limit feature for minor users, in an effort to curb the amount of time young people spend on the app.
Government officials have called TikTok a national security threat over the app’s Chinese ownership and ties to the ruling Chinese Communist Party. Officials have warned that the app could be used to spy on Americans.
Congress banned TikTok on federal government devices, and dozens of other state governments have also banned the app on their devices. There’s a growing bipartisan effort to ban TikTok altogether in the United States and, last month, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) called on Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their respective app stores.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
By Ryan Morgan