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Fraternity and Sorority Members and Alcohol and Other Drug Use

NCJ Number
203748
Date Published
December 2002
Length
4 pages
Annotation
This document discusses alcohol and other drug use by college fraternity and sorority members.
Abstract
The consequences of drinking on campus each year are 1,400 deaths from alcohol-related causes; 500,000 unintentional injuries; 600,000 assaults; and 70,000 cases of sexual assault and acquaintance rape. Fraternities and sororities are among the key groups that foster this culture of drinking on campus. Their members drink far greater amounts of alcohol, and do so more frequently than other members, setting a norm for heavy drinking. A national study on college drinking found that fraternity members were much more likely to engage in heavy drinking than their non-fraternity peers. Among women, 62.4 percent of sorority members engaged in heavy drinking, compared with 40.9 percent of other female students. Residency in a fraternity or sorority house was associated with even higher rates of heavy drinking. Fraternity and sorority-affiliated athletes are especially heavy drinkers. The largest on-campus venue for drinking is the fraternity or sorority house. Approximately 50 percent of students living in a fraternity or sorority house performed poorly on a test or project, versus about 25 percent of all students. The leaders of fraternities and sororities suffer even greater consequences than other members. One study found that 26.9 percent of fraternity leaders and 18.6 percent of sorority leaders had suffered an alcohol-related injury. Eighty-three percent of residents in a fraternity or sorority house experienced negative consequences due to other students’ drinking, such as a serious argument, assault, property damage, having to take care of a drunken student, interrupted sleep or study, an unwanted sexual advance, or sexual assault or acquaintance rape. Twenty to 25 percent of college women are victims of an attempted or completed rape during their college careers. Both the social environment of fraternities and sororities and the fact that new students that are already heavy drinkers are more likely to want to join these societies contribute to high rates of alcohol consumption. College and university prevention efforts should target these social societies by promoting alcohol- and drug-free social options; creating an environment that promotes healthy social norms; and limiting alcohol availability and access. 14 references