A new report estimates that one in five people in hospital beds are using alcohol harmfully, such as binge-drinking.
The major review, led by Dr Emmert Roberts of King’s College London, also revealed that as many as one in ten patients in the study were alcohol-dependent.
Groups worried about the effects of alcohol on society have called for new approaches – including minimum pricing.
It is estimated heavy drinkers are costing the NHS as much as £3.5 billion a year.
CEO of Alcohol Change UK Dr Richard Piper said: “These numbers are shocking: the number of beds used, the cost to the NHS, the sheer number of people suffering as a result of alcohol”.
He said cuts to dedicated alcohol services means ill-equipped hospitals are being left to pick up the pieces, “resulting in alcohol problems going untreated and those suffering returning to hospital time and time again”.
He added that tackling the problem meant considering “whole-population approaches, like minimum unit pricing and restrictions on alcohol marketing”.
The Chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, Prof Sir Ian Gilmore, said. “More than 80 people die of alcohol-related causes across the UK every day, and there are more than 1 million alcohol-related hospital admissions every year in England alone.
“This puts considerable pressure on the NHS, as well as other public services”.
He said introducing minimum unit pricing, which would raise the price of the cheapest, strongest alcohol products, “would help to tackle the alcohol-related harms people are experiencing”.