Academic journal article Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education

Analyzing Greek Members Alcohol Consumption by Gender and the Impact of Alcohol Education Interventions

Academic journal article Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education

Analyzing Greek Members Alcohol Consumption by Gender and the Impact of Alcohol Education Interventions

Article excerpt


Members of the Greek community have been found to engage in riskier alcohol drinking behaviors and have higher alcohol-related negative consequences. A sample of Greek members were surveyed in Spring of 2013 (n = 372). It was found that The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-Consumption (AUDIT-C) scores were significantly higher for male respondents than female respondents. During the fall semester, alcohol education sessions were offered to all members of the Greek community. Of the respondents who attended alcohol education sessions (n = 334), 55%o reported these sessions changed their perception of high risk drinking. Implications for alcohol education programming are discussed.

Key words: Greek members, gender, risky drinking, alcohol education

College drinking has been identified as a serious health problem on college campuses (Capone, Wood, Borsari, & Laird, 2007). Alcohol use disorders are the most prevalent but the least treated mental health problems on campus. Roughly 20% of college students meet the DSM-IV criteria for a substance use disorder and only 5% receive treatment (Blanco et al., 2008). A population that is especially at risk is the Greek community. In a review of 69 studies (Borsari, Hustad, & Capone, 2009), results have consistently found that students who are members of fraternities and sororities consume more alcohol than students not in Greek organizations and experience more alcohol-related problems. In addition to drinking greater quantities of alcohol, Greek students also drink more frequently than their non-Greek counterparts (Barry, 2007). Besides being more likely to drink, students in Greek organizations are more likely to engage in binge drinking (62.9% versus 40.5%) than non-Greek students (Chauvin, 2012). Ragsdale et al. (2012) found sorority members who binge drank were significantly more likely to be injured, be victimized sexually, drive while under the influence of alcohol, and engage in unwanted sex more often than females in sororities who did not binge drink. Fraternity members who binge drink were significantly more likely to engage in physical fights than male students not in fraternities, drive while under the influence, and engage in unprotected sex than those who binged less frequently.

Socialization and Selection

Socialization appears to be related to the use of alcohol in the college environment, and students are immersed in an environment where alcohol use and misuse are "accepted, prevalent, and normative" (Capone et al., 2007, p. 316). Ashmore, Del Boca, and Beebe (2002) stated "students expect that alcohol will enhance their sociability" (p. 905). In fact, students may choose to increase their own alcohol use in order to fit into the Greek system. Park, Sher, and Krull (2008) found students who joined fraternities after their first year reported significant increases in drinking and alcohol related consequences compared to those who did not join. Paschall and Saltz (2007) found more pre-drinking prior to events occurred at fraternity houses, and Glindemann and Geller (2003) discovered measured blood alcohol levels were higher at fraternity parties than private parties. These findings support the idea that Greek housing may create an enabling environment for heavy drinking.

The concept of socialization contributing to levels of college drinking is supported by Borsani and Carey (2001) who have cited the role of peer influence on college drinking. They concluded peer pressure is a result of three influences. The first of these is direct peer influence through direct offers of alcohol. The second is indirect influence, which is related to modeling. The third influence is the creation of social norms around alcohol use. All three of these influences are found in the social atmosphere of the Greek system.

But students also enter college with their own histories of alcohol use, and this previous level of use can influence choices made once they arrive on campus. …

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