Alcohol abuse in college has quickly become a major issue, especially among fraternities and sororities. Studies shows that members of Greek life are more likely to binge drink than college students who are not in fraternities and sororities. A Harvard University study found that 4 out of 5 sorority and fraternity members are binge drinkers. This is compared to another finding that two out of five college students are binge drinkers, as well. There are many harmful consequences to binge drinking such as higher rates of accidents, emergency room visits, and deaths.

Greek Life Drinking Statistics

Alcohol abuse is high among members of Greek life. Members of fraternities and sororities are among the most at risk for binge drinking compared with peers who aren’t in Greek life. Men are also more likely than women to practice binge drinking in college. A 10-year study about Greek life alcohol usage found that 97% of a national fraternity consisting of 3,400 members drink regularly. 64% consisted of members who identified as binge drinkers. That same study found that 60% of fraternity members started drinking at age 16. Meanwhile, 50% of frat members have symptoms of alcohol addiction.

How Does Alcohol Abuse in College Develop?

In Greek life, alcohol abuse is prevalent. Though Greek life is used for academic advancement, it is also known as being a place for partying. Since Greek life contributes to party culture, it also means that excessive drinking is treated as the norm. Some risk factors for alcohol abuse in college include:

  • History of heavy drinking
  • Lack of supervision
  • Hazing
  • Peer pressure
  • Being financially well off

History of Heavy Drinking

Students can be at risk for alcohol abuse in college if they drank heavily in high school. The Recovery Village says that students who drank in high school are more likely to join a Greek organization and keep drinking.

Lack of Supervision

A main reason why students practice binge drinking in college is due to lack of supervision. When students live in dorms, they’re usually assigned a resident assistant who enforces rules and monitors the behaviors of students. Greek housing doesn’t have resident assistants or authority to enforce rules to help avoid or keep drinking levels down. Oftentimes, the students who are in charge of supervising will even encourage drinking excessively. According to the Addiction Center, campus officials may even turn the other cheek when it comes to these activities due to the positive economic benefit that some Greek sororities or fraternities have on the school.

Hazing

Binge drinking in college is often part of a common initiation ritual in Greek life called “hazing.” Hazing is a difficult and usually humiliating initiation into a new group or organization.  It involves a range of practices including physical, psychological, and sexual assault, as well as criminal activity and outright abuse. Many times, it also involves binge drinking. This can have the potential to become dangerous as it can lead to alcohol poisoning and even death. The Addiction Center says that many alcohol-related deaths within fraternities happen to college freshmen. In fact, 15 of the 24 fraternity-related freshmen deaths since 2005 happened during or after initiation and hazing rituals.

Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is also a cause of alcohol abuse in college, especially when drinks are readily available. Students are more likely to drink or do drugs if they are living on campus, and this is even more likely if a student is living in Greek housing. Members of a sorority or fraternity often live in the same housing, and friends and peers in Greek houses serve as a family away from home. This can lead to peer pressure and wanting to fit in with their friends.

Oftentimes, sororities and fraternities provide environments where drinking heavily is normalized. While peer pressure is high among college students, it tends to be even higher in Greek organizations. Members may feel the extra pressure to keep up with their brothers and sisters. New members may feel even more pressure.

Being Financially Well Off

Though the idea is that many members of Greek fraternities and sororities come from a higher economic background, it is common that most of the members are better off financially. Being able to afford the cost of alcohol, as well as having little to no supervision, can lead to members buying alcohol.

What Are The Long-Term Effects of Binge Drinking in College?

Binge drinking in college can often lead to harmful long-term effects. The Journal of Adolescent Health shows that fraternity members who lived in a fraternity house for at least one semester had symptoms of alcohol use disorder by the age of 35. Studies have also found that 45% of males who were fraternity members at the age of 35 reported that they developed two or more symptoms of alcoholism. This is compared to 30.4% of college students who were not involved in Greek life and 33.1% of their non-college peers.

Women who were involved with Greek life and were residential members were more likely to develop two or more symptoms of alcoholism at age 35 at 26.4% when compared to female college students not involved in sororities where the percentage of developing alcohol use disorder was 18%. These studies have shown that the link between Greek life and alcohol abuse is alarming.

What Are Treatment Options for Alcohol Abuse in Young Adults?

There are options to prevent these long-term effects, and that is by helping young adults combat this early. The Discovery Institute is committed to helping young adults with alcohol use disorder (AUD). We believe that our rehab is most successful when the client, family system and social support network is integrated. This system will be successful when it comes to the goal of having individuals to overcome alcohol use disorder. There is more than one approach to help young adults successfully overcome alcohol abuse in college.

Detox and Therapy

We have included different methods such as group and individual therapy, educational seminars, and active involvement of the Twelve Steps. Our treatment plan starts with a medical, psychological, and drug and alcohol assessment, which helps us set up a baseline. Treatment then begins immediately afterward.

With family counseling, the Discovery Institute is aware that this disorder does not just affect the individual but that it also impacts those close to the individual that is suffering. Our team includes experienced counselors and therapists to help families resolve relationships that might have become strained due to this disorder. The client and their loved ones will be given the opportunity to set boundaries, express their feelings and emotions, as well as process their experiences as a family unit.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

We also recognize that many patients who suffer from alcohol abuse also suffer from co-occurring mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety. We have a team of nurses, therapists, and doctors to help provide medication and therapy to treat mental health issues and alcohol use disorder. Our staff is also experienced in providing counseling for trauma. This can change the way the brain functions as well as lead individuals to develop unhealthy coping mechanisms. Our therapists will help clients process these traumatic experiences and guide them to form new and healthy coping mechanisms that will help aid in recovery long term.

Are There Other Programs Available?

The Discovery Institute also includes programs that help young adults adjust to a sober life. With these programs, we help to provide hope for recovery. Some of the specialized programs include Vocational Training and Resume Building, Life Skill Development, and help with legal problems. 

Vocational and Resume Building help young adults identify career goals and develop the skills that they would need to succeed in the real world outside of treatment. Life skill development teaches young adults basic life skills, such as cleaning, self-care, and cooking that will lead to them living a well-rounded, and adjusted life when they are done with treatment.

We also offer help with legal problems as many of our patients make choices that may lead to legal repercussions. Our staff is trained in verifying patients’ enrollment and preparing progress reports and documentation for patients under observation by the legal system. Our counselors are also trained in helping patients through processing their emotions when it comes to legal consequences.

Find Solace at Discovery Institute

Alcohol abuse can affect a young adult’s life, and put their future on pause. It is best to treat it early so that young adults can have the future that they deserve. At Discovery Institute, we guarantee that we can help young adults recover and lead fulfilling lives. With our treatment plan, we not only provide tools for long-term recovery. We also teach skills to help them achieve a bright future. Contact us today to learn more.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.