Alcohol abuse is costing the UK's National Health Service up to £3bn a year, through over 28,000 hospital admissions caused by alcohol dependence or poisoning, officials have warned.
It is estimated that one in six people attending the accident and emergency units has alcohol-related injurues and 33,000 deaths a year a linked to drink. Some experts are even suggesting that the sheer cost of this treatment could deal the NHS a terminal blow.
The figures released by Alcohol Concern will be presented at a conference for primary care health workers today to alert them to the scale of the problem.
Dr Chris Luke of Cork University Hospital said the NHS would collapse unless lifestyle issues such as alcohol are tackled.
The warnings follow a report earlier this week by the Medical Council on Alcohol, which suggests there has been a dramatic increase in excessive drinking among professional women.