By: Maria Gabriela Mendez

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Twenty years of data research have proven that fraternity brothers are less likely to reduce their alcohol consumption even after an intervention has been made, according to a recent investigation published in the American Psychological Association’s journal Health Psychology.

It is a social fact that college students, especially those who join sororities and fraternities endure in heavier alcohol and drug consumption. From drinking games to massive parties, alcohol has become a regular in a college student’s life.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism 1,800, college students died from drinking-related causes in 2014. Around 696,000 assaults were made by drunk students and almost a 100,000 students reported sexual assault and rapes involving alcohol.

The Washington Post explains that even though not all of the numbers include college fraternities they are more likely to drink than their peers because of fraternal enthusiasm.

A recent investigation held by Brown University and the Miriam Hospital of Rhode Island proves that alcohol-related interventions don’t work as well in fraternity members when compared with regular college students.

“Stronger interventions may need to be developed for student members of Greek letter organizations, ” assured lead author of the investigation Lori. A.J. Scott-Sheldon a psychologist at Brown University.

Alcohol intervention on frat members

The research team lead by Scott-Sheldon investigated fifteen different studies that recalled data from 6,000 fraternity members and sororities in the last twenty years.

Data facts included one-on-one interviews with college students that lasted around 50 minutes. Students were warned about risk factors on alcohol consumption, alcohol education, between others.

The team’s first objective was to examine the efficacy of alcohol-related interventions on Greek letter organization members, to educate the participants on alcohol consequences and risks.

Based on previous interventions, investigators hoped to achieve their objective using well designed and administered talks and advice that had previously worked on college students who did not belong to fraternities.

The results of the investigation took a different turn when lead author Scott-Sheldon discovered that an alcohol intervention didn’t work on fraternity members and in some cases a double amount of drinking was reported.

“Current intervention methods appear to have limited effectiveness in reducing alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems among fraternity and possibly sorority members,” said Scott-Sheldon in a press release.

The investigation’s findings cannot be generalized to sorority members since the data only included a small percentage of female participants.

One of the fifteen studies investigated by the research team featured weekly records collected by students on their alcohol consumption, in many cases drinking habits did not change and in fact, some recorded drinking even more after the intervention.

The team of researchers explained that fraternity members might not have a direct response to alcohol intervention, but might have what psychologists categorize as ‘sleeper effect’ which provides expected results in wider time frames.

Investigators found that interventions might have been ineffective in fraternity members because Greek culture attaches sexual and social success to drinking.

In the interviews while being asked about drinking habits and in some occasions explanations and reasons for drinking, many results concluded that fraternity brothers expected a boost in their social and sexual life thanks to drinking.

Investigators proved that interventions did work on specific occasions such as reducing the amount of days of heavy drinking thanks to challenging and reducing the student’s expectations on drinking, according to the first author of the study Scott-Sheldon.

Lori Scott-Sheldon was interviewed by NBC to comment on the results of the investigations in were she assured how surprised she was at the results

“It was unexpected, we thought they would work as they did in the broader student population. It may just be more challenging to act on your intentions if the environment endorses alcohol use,” said Scott-Sheldon.

Currently, many schools and colleges are fighting the effects of drinking while on campus, since an epidemic of sexual abuses, rapes, and car accidents have presented after excessive alcohol consumption on the student body.

Binge-drinking rates have been over forty percent in the last two decades, according to the New York Times, assuring that in most of the cases the main objective of drinking in colleges is to blackout.

Alcohol abuse and addiction in the Greek system

According to the Addiction Center’s website, the Greek system not only provides a great amount of social and professional benefits but could also provide alcohol abuse or addiction for several reasons.

Group living is one of the main reasons, according to the addiction center, peer pressure is hard to avoid when being surrounded by an alcohol environment all the time. Initiation rituals, lack of supervision and social pressure are also listed in the Addiction Center’s list.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism explains the effects alcohol could have on the body over time which includes:

  1. Brain malfunctioning including disruptions on mood changes, behavior, effects of the body’s movements between others.
  2. Damages of the heart including Cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, stroke and high blood pressure
  3. Damages to the liver: Alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and fibrosis

Excess of alcohol could also lead to different types of cancer and weakening of the immune system.

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