Youth drinking – then and now

The Swedish Council for Information on Alcohol and Other Drugs (CAN) carries out a a survey of school students’ use of alcohol and other drugs. The study examines, amongst other things, how many ninth graders and 2nd year of upper secondary school students drink alcohol, and if so, how often and how much. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the upper secondary school survey could not be carried out in 2020. So the findings presented for upper secondary school students are from 2019, when they were last included in the survey.


The number of ninth graders who drink has fallen sharply since 2000. In the latest survey there were more drinkers amongst the girls (48 per cent) then the boys (38 per cent). These figures are amongst the lowest since the survey began in 1971, and show that most ninth graders choose not to drink alcohol.  The percentage of 2nd year upper secondary school students who drink has also fallen from almost 90 per cent (2004) to 69 per cent  So in other words, it’s definitely not true to say that “everyone else drinks”.


The percentage of ninth graders who got drunk before the age of 14 has fallen from about 20 per cent (in 2000) to 5 per cent, in 2020.


The fact that the trends are moving in the right direction doesn’t mean, however, that everything is OK. These positive trends have see over the last few years seem to have stalled or reversed slightly. But making a difference is possible. Efforts by parents and society can ensure that the number of youngsters who drink continues to fall. Your role as a parent is very important.

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