The Royal College of Psychiatrists is calling for extra Government support to fund addiction services post-Covid.
The RCPsych claims that current addiction services are ill-equipped to deal with the surge of patients that will require help as lockdown measures start to be lifted.
Citing numbers from Public Health England, the College says that 8.5m adults are drinking at high risk, up by almost 4 million people in February.
The number of people suffering with opiate addiction is also up to its highest level since 2015.
Deep cuts made to addiction services since 2013/14 mean the estimated 8.4 million higher risk drinkers and the hundreds of additional people with an opiate addiction needing help could miss out on life-saving treatment.
Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:
“Addiction services have been starved of funding in recent years meaning many are not able to treat and care for the huge numbers of people who are drinking at high risk.
“More lives will be needlessly lost to addiction unless the Government acts now and commits to substantial investment in public health, including adult addiction services, in the Spending Review.
“I urge the government to implement the recommendations in our report which would see mental health services expand to be the biggest in Europe, with a much-needed focus on tackling inequalities.”