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Dozens of UMass students hospitalized after consuming "borgs"

Dozens of students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst were hospitalized over the weekend after participating in the dangerous "borg" drinking challenge that has gained popularity on TikTok, officials said.

In total, 46 students were hospitalized, but all were eventually medically cleared and discharged back to campus or home with injuries deemed not life-threatening, Amherst town manager Paul Bockelman told CBS News.

Twenty-eight ambulances were used to transport students to the hospital. Because of the high number of students needing medical assistance, Amherst required the help of ambulances from neighboring towns and the regional EMS task force, Bockelman said.

Borgs, or "blackout rage gallons," are one-gallon containers of water that are emptied a bit, and then filled with alcohol and some kind of flavoring, such as water-enhancing drops or powdered drink mixes.

The trend of making and consuming borgs on college campuses became popular on TikTok. The hashtag #borg has garnered over 82.5 million views on the social media platform.

"UMass officials said this is the first time the university has observed notable use of borgs," a joint statement from the university and the town said. "They will assess this weekend's developments and consider steps to improve alcohol education and intervention, and communicate with students and families."

While there is some logic behind the idea of adding water and electrolytes to slow down the impact of alcohol or lessen hangovers, experts are concerned that the gallon size encourages binge drinking. One borg could contain 16 servings of alcohol or more.

"Consuming this much alcohol would be fatal for the vast majority of people, even if spread out over a full day," Dr. George F. Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at the National Institutes of Health, told CBS News.

The school said all incoming students are required to complete an educational program in alcohol consumption. The program includes discussions on "the size of standard drinks, and physiological and medical risks of binge drinking."

The students involved in this past weekend's borg incident were celebrating the annual "Blarney Blowout," "an unsanctioned event related to upcoming St. Patrick's Day," according to a report by the Associated Press.

Amherst police also arrested two students for underage drinking during the incident, Bockelman said.  

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