As expected, members of Greek letter organizations drank significantly more than non-members during their college years, investigators found. The former were no more likely than non-members, however, to drink excessively three years later.
"Drinking patterns among Greeks and those not affiliated with a Greek house were clearly different during college, but by three years after college, levels of heavy drinking among Greek members had moderated significantly," the authors wrote. "Once the students leave campus they are no longer immersed in a social environment that supports heavy drinking, and their drinking decreases as a result."
Effective prevention of excessive alcohol consumption on campus involves efforts with clear alcohol policies, consistent enforcement of those policies and coordination with prevention efforts in the larger community surrounding the campus, they wrote.
"There also needs to be appropriate intervention services for those students manifesting signs and symptoms of alcohol dependence and methods for identifying and motivating them for treatment," the three concluded.
In a sense, the findings are good news, Bartholow said.
"Our study shows that the heavy drinking does taper off for most of these people after college," he said. "Drinking among most members of these social organizations is almost totally driven by what students believe their friends think and not by a need to drink."
One strength of the study was that it utilized a prospective design and followed students over time, Bartholow said. That allowed researchers to predict future behavior with current or pre
Contact: David Williamson
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill