Alcohol misuse is the “greatest healthcare problem facing Northern Ireland”, a coroner has said.
Figures obtained by BBC News NI show the number of alcohol-related deaths in Northern Ireland is the highest on record.
Between 2001 and 2016, more than 3,500 deaths in Northern Ireland were attributed to alcohol.
Coroner Joe McCrisken said: “We have an enormous problem with alcohol use, misuse and abuse in Northern Ireland.”
“The figures are frightening because they show that the number of alcohol-related deaths is increasing, so it’s important to raise awareness about the dangers,” he added.
Dealing with alcohol-related illnesses costs the health service about £250m a year, said Dr George O’Neill, the chairman of Addiction NI.
He added that 12,000 people were admitted to hospital each year with alcohol-related problems in Northern Ireland, where 170,000 people drank hazardously and 47,000 drank harmfully.