Nearly one million people in England became addicted to alcohol as a result of Covid lockdowns, official data suggests.
Government polling before the pandemic estimated 1.5million adults drank at least 50 units every week — the equivalent of three pints or nearly a bottle of wine every night.
But this jumped to just shy of 2.5million this summer, which experts have blamed on the endless cycle of virus-controlling restrictions.
Dr Tony Rao, a world-renowned expert on alcohol misuse in older people at King’s College London, warned the impact of lockdowns had been ‘devastating’.
Alcohol charities said the data showed drinking in older people has reached a level of crisis ‘that is happening now’.
NHS guidelines recommend men and women do not drink more than 14 units a week.
Regularly drinking over the guideline amount can lead to dependence and health problems, including liver disease, heart disease and cancer.