90% of Finnish youth obtain alcohol through intermediaries. The majority of young people find it easy to access alcohol.
The proportion of sober young people has increased in recent years, and attitudes towards substance use among youth have become more negative. Although alcohol consumption among young people has decreased, according to the School Health Survey, 35% of middle school-aged youth used alcohol in 2021.
The survey also indicates that about 90% of alcohol consumed by minors comes through intermediaries. Among middle school-aged youth who consume alcohol, 40% received it from their family, either from a parent or sibling, or by stealing alcohol from home.
"The end-of-school and graduation weekend is approaching. For some young people, it is still a celebration that involves alcohol consumption. This is the moment when those of us who are of legal age must refuse if we are asked to buy alcohol for a minor," says Sari Anjala, an expert from the Finnish Association for Substance Abuse Prevention (EHYT).
"Parents may buy beer or cider for their children, thinking that they can control their drinking and be aware of what the young person is consuming. However, providing alcohol to minors sends a message that underage drinking is acceptable. By purchasing alcohol, one cannot influence how much a young person drinks. Often, in addition to alcohol provided by parents, young people also consume other alcoholic beverages. Alcohol bought by parents can also lower the threshold for young people to drink with their friends and increase binge drinking," Anjala continues.
Obtaining alcohol is easy for minors
Finnish youth's alcohol consumption is not hindered by difficulty in obtaining drinks. According to a 2022 survey on Youth Culture and Substances, 67% of Finnish youth aged 15 to 25 feel that it is easy for someone under 18 to get alcohol. The findings of the survey examined the attitudes and perspectives on substance use among 15 to 25-year-old Finns.
Social media plays a significant role in the distribution of alcohol to minors today. It serves as both a marketplace for the purchase and sale of substances. According to young people, it is easy to obtain exactly what they want and how much they want through social media. In addition to alcohol, social media also facilitates the distribution of nicotine products to young people.
"Parents should discuss with their legal-age children the issue of providing substances to minors. They should remind them that adulthood comes with many freedoms and rights but also greater responsibility for their actions. Sometimes, when underage individuals are part of their social circle, the responsibility can be forgotten. Legal-age individuals should also remember that providing alcohol to minors, even without receiving compensation, is a crime," says Anjala.
The Finnish Association for Substance Abuse Prevention (EHYT) campaign, called "Hakematta paras" (The Best Not Sought), reminds all legal-age individuals why it is not advisable to buy alcohol for minors. The campaign will be active on social media during weeks 21 and 22.