The ‘BORG’ Explained—And Why Parents Should Know What It Is

Gallon jugs of booze are the latest trend on TikTok among college students. But parents of tweens and teens should also know about these new go-to cocktails.

Pouring into a gallon jug

Tana Teel / Stocksy

Has your teen been eyeing the recycling bin for milk and water gallon jugs? Sure, they could be using them for science projects, but they could also be attempting to make their own version of TikTok's favorite new party drink: the BORG.

Mixing up drinks in a soda bottle or liter jug isn't anything new. Many of us probably did something similar in our college days. But what is a BORG, exactly? The acronym generally stands for "black out rage gallon." It's a gallon jug filled with a mixed drink that can be easily toted along to parties and tailgates. Most BORGs are a combo of water, vodka, and a few mixers, including Crystal Light, MiO drops, and Liquid I.V. electrolyte powder. The trend caught on in the fall of 2022 as students headed to college. It caught fire on TikTok, where users shared their recipes and clever, punny names for their to-go all-day drinks.

The BORG trend may be primarily shared by college students out party-hopping, but like any viral trend, it trickles down to younger audiences at a rapid pace. The hashtag #borg currently has over 67 million views. Should you be concerned about your child seeing such content and trying to replicate it at home?

"The problem with challenges like BORG is that it seems cool, fun, and trendy, but the risks often go left unassessed," says Jillian Amodio, a social worker and founder of Moms for Mental Health. These large servings can encourage or escalate binge drinking, which can lead to alcohol poisoning, injury, sexual assault, and drunk driving. But in the minds of those making them, BORGs can have some positives. If a user is going to drink, by making their own BORG, they're in control of the alcohol level and are able to keep their drink with them, which means it won't be tampered with by others.

The Dangers of Drinking in Teens and Tweens

Exposure to alcohol and drinking culture as a teen or tween can also be extremely harmful to a child's brain development and may be a precursor to struggles with drinking as an adult.

"When an adolescent is exposed to alcohol early, it gives them a much greater chance of having problems with alcohol later in life," explains Dr. John Umhau, a practicing addiction medicine specialist. "Exposure to alcohol early on damages the brain. We know there's no safe level of alcohol, even for adults, but the problem is when you have a young person whose brain is still developing until their mid-20s, you interrupt the development and you don't get it back."

Signs of drinking in teens and tweens can include mood swings, rebellious behavior, trouble at school, and more common signs, like slurred speech and loss of coordination. "These signs and symptoms do not necessarily mean a child is drinking but they can be causes of concern," Amodio shares.

How Can I Talk To My Child About BORGs?

While you can't supervise your child 24/7, you can take an interest in their browsing and scrolling habits without breathing down their necks. Amodio says that taking a more open, communicative approach can be beneficial to both parents and children.

"Parents can bring concerning content up in informal discussion," she says. "For example, 'Hey, I know you are pretty active on TikTok and I have been hearing a lot about this BORG trend. What do you know about it?'" An open-ended conversation encourages a back-and-forth between you and your child instead of making them feel accused.

"In a similar manner, parents can use articles to start a conversation with their kids," Amodio says. Consider framing it this way: "I just read this interesting article and it really got me thinking about some of the trends on TikTok that might be a little dangerous, I would love to hear your thoughts."

It's also worth having a conversation with your child about their phone use and re-establishing boundaries and expectations. "The phone is a privilege and not a right, and parents need to ensure that teens understand that parents have the right to understand and assess what content is being consumed on the devices that they pay for and supply access to," says Amodio. "This too can be done in a way that is fueled by mutual respect rather than overt control." If your child is being secretive or evasive with their phone use, it's time for a tough convo.

You can't protect your child from every viral trend that comes their way, but being aware of what they're seeing and knowing how to talk about it together is the first step. "Drinking can be a recreational activity for college and is often a part of adolescent experimentation, but it is important to explain the risks associated with these behaviors to children," says Amodio.

She recommends refraining from absolute statements around drinking, like "If I catch you with alcohol, I would ground you for a year." She says that those excessive threats can easily backfire with teens who are still working out their critical thinking abilities. "Instead, focus on the facts, explain the risks … if they are of drinking age, talk about how to engage in safe drinking practices, and explain that social media only shows a snapshot in time of a specific situation, it very rarely shows that whole picture."

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