Updated on February 6, 2024
4 min read

Greek Life Drinking and Drug Abuse: What Students Aren’t Told

Understanding Substance Abuse in Greek Life

Numerous studies have shown that substance use is much higher among fraternities and sororities than among students who aren’t members of the Greek system. In particular, binge drinking is much higher among students affiliated with Greek life.

Binge drinking is a form of alcohol abuse. It has significant negative consequences for students' health, academic performance, and overall well-being. It’s also one of the top causes of the following events on campuses:

  • Accidents
  • Sexual assaults
  • Hospitalizations
  • Deaths

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How Prevalent Are The Problems With Greek Life?
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Underlying Factors for High Rates of Substance Abuse

Nearly half of all residential fraternity members reported alcohol use disorder (AUD) symptoms by age 35. A 2017 study by the Journal of Adolescent Health identified fraternity and sorority houses as high-risk areas for alcohol and drug abuse due to the following:

  • Group living: Students that live on campus are more likely to use substances. Students in Greek housing are at even higher risk.
  • Peer pressure: There’s tremendous social pressure to fit in and participate in parties. Often, individuals submit to the group mindset rather than making their own decisions.
  • Lack of supervision: Instead of RAs, these organizations are led by upper-level students, who are often front and center at the parties.
  • Hazing: Initiation rituals often include drinking, drug abuse, and even physical and verbal abuse.

Alcohol Abuse in Greek Life

Fraternities and sororities can positively influence students’ lives when they help them engage in academics, participate in philanthropic efforts, and organize networking events. Unfortunately, much of Greek life focuses primarily on partying and hazing.

Alcohol is the most abused substance on college campuses. Fraternity and sorority members—especially those that live in Greek houses—consume more liquor than non-members. 

Males also consume more alcohol than females, so fraternity members are susceptible to developing alcohol-related problems. Moreover, party culture often facilitates excessive alcohol use and drug abuse.

Potential Consequences of Alcohol Abuse

Binge drinking and other forms of alcohol abuse can lead to severe problems, including:

  • Accidents and emergency room visits
  • Drunk driving accidents
  • Sexual assault
  • Suffering grades
  • Substance use disorders
  • Long-term mental and physical health ailments

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Greek Life Drinking Statistics

  • Over 90% of fraternity members are regular drinkers
  • More than two out of every three members identify as “binge drinkers”
  • Approximately 70,000 cases of sexual assault or rape occur in Greek life each year
  • About 500,000 Greek life members suffer injuries due to substance use
  • Half of all students living in a fraternity or sorority house have performed poorly on a test or project due to alcohol
  • Over 45% of all fraternity members have reported AUD symptoms by the age of 35.8

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Drug Abuse in Greek Life

While several scientific studies report on drinking in Greek life, there’s little research on illicit drug use in fraternities and sororities. 

However, “party drugs” are more prevalent in party scenes, so they likely appear in fraternity and sorority houses. These drugs include:

The Prevalence of Date Rape Drugs in Greek Life

Rape and sexual assault is a serious problem on college campuses nationwide. In recent years, many groups have brought “rape culture” into the light to increase prevention efforts and reduce the number of rape and sexual assault cases. 

Greek life is a focal point of their efforts. Studies show that males in fraternities are three times more likely to commit rape than males not involved in Greek life.7 Additionally, sorority women are 74% more likely to experience rape than other college women.7

The Intersection of Substance Abuse and Sexual Assault

In approximately 90% of rape cases, either the assailant, the victim, or both were using alcohol. Date rape drugs are often used as well. They cause the victim to become drowsy and physically weak, often making them pass out.

The three most common date rape drugs are:

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How to Find Fraternities and Sororities that Don’t Encourage Substance Abuse

There are many fraternities and sororities that have a positive impact on the members. Below are some tips to help you identify these positive Greek life experiences:

  • Research and ask current members about their experience
  • Ask members about their GPA and overall academic performance
  • Use recruitment events on campus as the time to research groups instead of joining impulsively
  • Find out what their interests and commitments are
  • Look for groups that engage in volunteer work, tutoring, offer resources, and other community services
  • Ask about parties and other social events
  • Attend mixers and stay sober

What to Do if Your Greek House Has Problems With Alcohol

Fraternities and sororities are large groups of students. Often, the group leading others into risky situations is small. The silent majority usually has issues with this harmful behavior.
One way to address this is to find others who disagree with this behavior and speak up about the issues. This may prove challenging, as it takes a lot of courage. However, many students find they’re in the majority in these cases.

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Updated on February 6, 2024
8 sources cited
Updated on February 6, 2024

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