Illegal alcohol

In the past, young people often bought home-distilled alcohol from someone they knew. Nowadays, most of them buy alcohol that has been smuggled into the country from illegal dealers. Almost one in every five ninth graders say that they’ve drunk smuggled or home-distilled alcohol in the past year.


The people running this illegal trade include both private individuals and organised criminal networks, with large amounts of alcohol imported through buying trips by car to countries where alcohol is considerably cheaper than in Sweden. It’s not unusual, when these cars are stopped by customs, for there to be over 1,500 litres of alcohol in the vehicle. If they do make it back into Sweden, they sell the alcohol to more or less anyone, including young people. 

You just put up a post, 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 amounts of the illegal alcohol in stock, and are open 24/7 to anyone at all. Their phone numbers are spread around schools and, in particular, online. All you usually need to do is to text them and the dealer will deliver directly to the address of your choice.  


Some adults buy cheap alcohol from the same illegal dealers who sell to young people. The signals that this sends to teenagers probably never cross their mind. But if a parent buys from someone’s garage, they might find it hard to be credible when talking to their teenager about the law and age limits. And by buying alcohol in this way, they’re also encouraging an illegal business that makes it easier for young people to get ahold of alcohol. 

Tonårstjej vid bokhylla
Foto: Pablo Frisk

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

Petra, aged 15, Gothenburg


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

More to read about the same topic

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

When parents are not around

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