A Midlands-based addiction charity says lockdown isolation could be behind a rise in alcohol-related deaths over the past year.
Data released by the Office for National Statistics found there were 5,460 alcohol related deaths in the country last year, a 16% rise compared to 2019.
This represents the biggest toll recorded since records began in 2001.
Aquarius, a charity that has support services in Derby and Birmingham, says the increase is no surprise to them and the people they work with.
Ruth Spencer from the charity says the closure of face-to-face support and group sessions during lockdown would have also had an impact.
"Where we had lots of face to face interactions with people, a lot of that has been telephone interactions."
The British Liver Trust says the figures are not surprising after experiencing a surge in calls to their helpline.
Professor Steve Ryder from the charity says the pandemic has only made the problem worse with people drinking more because they are feeling isolated and anxious.
Support for alcohol addiction:
Drinkline – free, confidential helpline for people concerned about their drinking or someone else’s: 0300 123 1110 (open weekdays 9am-8pm, weekends 11am-4pm).
Al-Anon – providing support to the family and friends of problem drinkers: 0800 008 6811 (10am-10pm).
If you are at serious risk of harm or require emergency medical attention, call 999.For non-emergency medical advice, call the NHS on 111.