More than twice as many people are now dying from alcohol-related illnesses as in 1991, new figures have shown.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that the number of men and women dying from alcoholism in Britain increased from 4,144 in 1991 to 8,386 in 2005 and there are signs that the situation continues to worsen.
The rise is thought to be due to a combination of cheaper and more widely available alcohol which has led to a culture of heavy drinking, the Times reports.
In particular, teenage binge-drinking is believed to have contributed to the growing number of deaths before middle age, with the biggest increase occurring among 35 to 54-year-olds.
"Tragic as they are, these figures are conservative and hardly come as a surprise," said Frank Soodeen of Alcohol Concern, the national voluntary agency on alcohol misuse.
"Given that 16 to 24-year-olds are now among the heaviest consumers of alcohol in Britain, these figures paint a bleak picture for their future health," he told the Times.
"Drinkers need to realise that alcohol misuse is implicated in a range of fatal diseases, from cancer to severe psychosis, which can strike at relatively young ages."
What's better? Private or NHS healthcare?