Men are more likely to be problem drinkers
A quarter of adults in England drink above what are deemed safe levels, NHS figures show, but heavy alcohol consumption is starting to fall.
The report, which brings together a series of statistics, suggest the number of both men and women drinking above recommended levels has dropped.
But alcohol deaths did climb by 19% between 2001 and 2006. Of these 6,500, the majority suffered liver failure.
Drinking related harm costs the NHS in England nearly £3bn a year.
One in three men and one in five women in England are estimated to regularly drink above 21 and 14 units per week respectively, the NHS Information Centre reported.
A unit is equivalent to half a pint of lager or a single measure of spirits. A 125ml glass of wine has on average 1.5 units.
Drinking at these levels is believed to increase the risk of both physical and psychological damage, and is classified as "hazardous".
But the number of men with signs of alcohol dependence did fall marginally between 2000 and 2007 - from 11.5% to 9%. At 4%, the number of women remained unchanged.
The 6,541 deaths in 2007 were a 19% increase on 2001 - although this year's figures from the Office of National Statistics suggest that for the UK as a whole these numbers are now starting to come down.
While 17% of children did think it was acceptable to get drunk once a week, the number of youngsters who reported recently drinking alcohol dropped from one in four to one in five, while nearly half said they had never had a proper alcoholic drink.
This was significantly fewer than in 2003.
"There is definitely some good news within this, but we still have a chronic problem," says Martin Plant, professor of addiction studies at the University of the West of England.
"I would describe it as coming down from the peak of Mount Everest. We still have a very long way to go. It may however be the case that recession pushes the figures down futher as alcohol consumption does tend to go down when we're watching what we spend."
The report also noted that alcohol in 2008 was 75% more affordable than in 1980. There is currently a high-profile debate on the price of drinking in both Scotland and England, with suggestions that a tax increase might curb demand.
"As alcohol has become more affordable fuelled by the growth of irresponsible low cost sales, the population as whole is drinking more and this is having a massive impact on the nation's health," says the chief executive of Alcohol Concern Alcohol Don Shenker.
"Only one in 18 problem drinkers is receiving proper support. It is vital that the government starts investing more in alcohol treatment to help those with a drink problem to tackle these issues before it's too late."
Chris Sorek, head of the industry-backed Drinkaware Trust, said: "Many people enjoy alcohol as part of a healthy lifestyle but drinking to excess can lead to serious illness.
"With alcohol-related harm costing the NHS in England £2.7bn per year, it's imperative that consumers are unit-savvy. Whether it's relaxing with a glass of wine at home or unwinding with friends in the pub, it's a good idea for people to keep track of exactly how many units they're drinking - this is often the first step towards responsible drinking."