What do teenagers drink?

Ninth graders and upper secondary school students nowadays usually drink spirits, strong beer, alcopops, or cider. It’s worrying, of course, that teenagers are drinking so much spirits – if a young person finds it harder to judge the effects of alcohol in general, they’re hardly going to find it any easier with 40% spirits in their body.

Spirits and strong beer are most popular with boys

Followed, generally, by cider and alcopops. Wine and midstrength beers (2.25 per cent–3.5 per cent by volume) are, by contrast, not particularly popular

Girls usually drink spirits, alcopops or cider

They usually drink considerably less strong beer, mid-strength beer and wine. Spirits are more popular with girls than boys.

Most people drink spirits. It gets you drunker and you don't need to drink so much.

Jesper, aged 15, Umeå

Smuggled and home-distilled spirits

In 2018, 26 per cent of ninth graders and almost half (49 per cent) of year 2 upper secondary school students had drunk some form of illegal alcohol, i.e. home-distilled or smuggled beer, spirits, or wine. The percentage who had drunk smuggled alcohol has increased slightly over the past 5 years, while the percentage who had drunk home-distilled or home-brewed alcohol (5 per cent in 9th grade and 9 per cent in upper secondary school) has remained relatively stable over the same period. Drinking illegal alcohol is more common amongst girls than boys.

Mid-strength beer is stronger than many think

When teenagers start drinking stronger and stronger beverages, there’s a risk that they will regard weaker drinks as harmless. Getting drunk on mid-strength beer can seem almost impossible, but the fact is that it is actually perfectly possible. A six-pack of mid-strength beer contains almost as much alcohol as, for example, 6 glasses of wine.

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.

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