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Greek life membership associated with binge drinking and marijuana use in later life

Close to half of fraternity members report symptoms of alcohol use disorder at age 35

February 15, 2018

Teens drinking at a partyPhoto by ©iStock.com/sturti

A scientific study finds that close to half of residential fraternity members had symptoms of alcohol use disorder (AUD) by age 35, and that living in a fraternity or sorority at college is associated with continued binge drinking and marijuana use through early midlife. The research, from the University of Michigan, is published in the Journal of Adolescent Health and was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The authors analyzed samples of U.S. high school seniors from the Monitoring the Future study who were followed via self-administered surveys up to age 35. The scientists found that males who lived for at least one semester in a fraternity house had significantly higher rates of binge drinking during and after college up through age 35, compared to their peers in college not involved in fraternities, and to non-students of the same age.  Among males at age 35, 45 percent of the residential fraternity members reported two or more AUD symptoms, compared to 32.7 percent of non-residential fraternity members, 30.4 percent of college students who were not involved in fraternities and 33.1 percent of their non-college peers. Similarly, women who were residents of a sorority had higher odds of two or more AUD symptoms at age 35 (26.4 percent) when compared to non-residential sorority members (19.1 percent), college students not involved in sororities (18.0 percent) or their non-college peers (16.9 percent).

The study also found that residential fraternity and sorority members had a significantly higher prevalence of marijuana use into their mid-30s compared to other college students and non-college youth; however, the groups did not differ significantly in adulthood cannabis use disorder (CUD) symptoms, with about six percent in each group reporting two or more CUD symptoms at age 35.  

The findings reinforce the importance of substance use prevention efforts among fraternity and sorority members during and following their college years.

For a copy of the abstract go to, "How collegiate fraternity and sorority involvement relates to substance use during young adulthood and substance use disorders in early midlife: A national longitudinal study," published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

For more information about alcohol, go to: Drugs of Abuse: Alcohol.  For information about marijuana, go to: Drugs of Abuse: Marijuana.

For more information, contact the NIDA press office at media@nida.nih.gov or 301-443-6245. Follow NIDA on Twitter and Facebook.

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    NIDA. (2018, February 15). Greek life membership associated with binge drinking and marijuana use in later life. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2018/02/greek-life-membership-associated-binge-drinking-marijuana-use-in-later-life

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