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  • Lauri Beekmann

Finland: Minors obtain their alcohol through intermediaries

22.05.2023 - 90% of the alcohol consumed by Finnish young people comes from intermediaries. Most young people find it easy to obtain alcohol.

The proportion of sober young people has increased in recent years, and young people's attitudes towards substance use have become more negative. Although young people's alcohol use has decreased, according to the school health survey, 35% of high school-aged young people used alcohol in 2021. According to the school health survey, about 90% of the alcohol consumed by underage youth comes through intermediaries. 40% of high school-aged young people who use alcohol got it from their family, either given by a parent or sibling or by stealing alcohol from home.

“The school and educational institutions' graduation weekend is approaching. For some young people, it is still a celebration that involves alcohol use. This is once again the moment when we adults have to refuse if we are asked to buy alcohol for a young person," says Sari Anjala, an expert from the Finnish Association for Substance Abuse Prevention EHYT.

“Parents may buy their child, for example, beer or cider, because they think they can control the young person's drinking in this way and be aware of what the young person is drinking. However, giving alcohol to a minor signals to the young person that underage alcohol use would be ok. By buying alcohol, one cannot influence how much the young person drinks. Often, in addition to the alcohol bought by the parents, young people also drink other alcohol. Alcohol purchased by parents can also lower a young person's threshold to use alcohol with friends and increase binge drinking," Anjala continues.

Obtaining alcohol is easy for a minor

The alcohol use of Finnish young people is not dependent on the difficulty of obtaining drinks. 67% of Finnish young people aged 15-29 feel that it is easy for someone under 18 to get alcohol. The information emerges from the Young Culture and Substances study conducted in 2022, which examined the attitudes and views of 15-29-year-old Finns on substance use.

Social media has a significant role in conveying alcohol to minors today. It serves both as a place to buy and sell substances. According to young people, it is easy to get exactly what they want and as much as they want from there. In addition to alcohol, a lot of nicotine products are also conveyed to young people through social media.

"Parents should discuss with their adult children about conveying substances to minors. Remind them that adulthood includes many different freedoms and rights, but also a greater responsibility for one's actions. Sometimes, when there are underage people in your own circle of friends, the responsibility can be forgotten. An adult should also remember that conveying alcohol to a minor, even without a commission, is a crime," says Anjala.

The "Best without seeking" (Hakematta paras) campaign by the Finnish Association for Substance Abuse Prevention EHYT reminds all adults why alcohol should not be bought for minors. The campaign is active on social media in weeks 21 and 22."

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