Illegal alcohol

In the past, young people often bought home-distilled alcohol from someone they knew. Nowadays, they buy alcohol that has been smuggled into the country from illegal dealers, instead. One in every four 9th grader and almost one in every five 2nd year upper secondary school student have bought smuggled alcohol.

Private individuals and criminal networks

The people engaging in this illegal trade include both private individuals and a range of organised criminal networks, with large amounts of alcohol brought into the country through buying trips by car to countries where alcohol is considerably cheaper than in Sweden. The car trunks are usually packed to the brim with beer, wine, and spirits – when stopped by Customs, it’s not uncommon to find over 1,500 litres there. If they’re not stopped, once they’re back on home ground, they sell the alcohol to anyone at all. It doesn’t matter whether it’s to an adult or to a child.

You just post on Facebook, asking if anyone can get hold of some spirits. And then, like one second later, someone messages you and asks you what you want.

Wille, aged 16, Gothenburg

24/7 sales

The dealers usually keep substantial stocks of the illegal alcohol at home, in their cellars, garages or other storage areas. And they are open 24/7 to anyone. Their mobile numbers are spread around schools and, in particular, online. All you need to do is send a message and the seller will deliver directly to the address of your choice.

They sell to adults. And they sell to kids, too

Some adults buy cheap alcohol from the same illegal dealers who sell to teenagers and the sort of signals they’re sending to their children probably never even cross their minds. But if parents buy from a garage, they’ll find it hard to be credible when talking to their teenagers about the law and age limits. And by buying alcohol in this way, they’re also encouraging a business that makes it easier for young people to get a hold of alcohol.

I don't know where the alcohol comes from. It's my friends who fix us up.

Petra, aged 15, Gothenburg

It’s not just the alcohol that can be dangerous

Selling alcohol illegally is a serious crime punishable with heavy fines or prison sentences. Teenagers who buy alcohol from dealers are, in other words, doing business with criminals who often are involved in other forms of illegal activity too. Which means not only that they’re encouraging an illegal trade, but that the relationship itself can be directly hazardous.

More to read about the same topic

Teenager’s drinking habits

Not only is it illegal to buy alcohol for young people, but most adults think that alcohol is something teenagers should be avoiding. So where are teenagers getting their alcohol? How much do they drink? And what sort of problems do young people experience in connection to alcohol?

Useful contacts and more info

It can sometimes be good to talk to someone who knows a bit more about teenagers and alcohol, or about anything else, for that matter.

If you want to do more

There’s a lot you can do to support and be there for teenagers. Maybe you can take part in night-time patrols, or make it easier for them to say “no”, or help promote a smarter approach to alcohol in some other way.

Other important topics to read about

Teenagers and alcohol

There are many considerations that can easily arise when your child becomes a teenager. But first and foremost: how do young people think about drinking themselves? And why is it more dangerous to drink alcohol in adolescence than as an adult?

Take responsibility

Maybe you sometimes feel pretty helpless as a parent. But there’s a lot you can do. As always showing that you care, that you’re there and that you are happy to listen. And often it’s important to be clear about what you expect of your teenager.

If parents are not around

Festivals, home parties and trips abroad are examples of situations where adults are rarely present. There are some pitfalls that you, as a parent, should be aware of and that you can teach your teenager how to handle.

Yes or no?

The clearer you communicate your expectations, the easier it is for your teenager to take a stand or do what you say. Also, think about what sort of message and values you’re conveying to your child.

The teenage years

The teenage years are a very special time in your child’s life. Teenagers are navigating the frontier lands between childhood and adulthood and there are a lot of new things to handle: school, friends, being allowed to stay out late, sex, parties and – not least – alcohol.

Back to The Teenage Phrasebook home page