Doctors, lawyers and teachers are more likely to drink alcohol regularly than manual workers, official figures show.
Almost four out of five of people working in managerial and professional roles had consumed alcohol in the previous week, a report found.
This compared with only half of labourers, lorry drivers, receptionists, care workers and others classed as routine and manual workers.
Experts last night warned that the trend was yet more evidence of a ‘wine o’clock’ culture taking its toll on health.
Alcohol addiction specialist Steve Clarke, based at the Priory Group’s hospital in Woking, Surrey, said it had seen an increase in middle-class professionals using alcohol to ‘de-stress’.
He said: ‘We frequently see them drinking dangerous levels to “self-medicate” for work stress. Professionals regularly drink large glasses of wine that contain three units or more without batting an eye. Then they have a second.
‘Middle-class drinkers are unlikely to pay attention to Government health warnings as they may be less likely to believe they get excessively drunk, and can withstand increases in prices.’
Baby boomers were the most likely to be drinking at higher or increasing risk levels, consuming the highest amounts over a week. Those aged 55-64 had the highest levels of drinking over the course of a week with 35 per cent consuming more than the recommended 14 units a week.
The Facebook generation – those aged 16 to 24 – were the least likely to drink of any age group. Overall, those who drank more than the three or four drinks on their heaviest day fell from 20 % to 15 % among all age groups.
Young people were among the most likely to be part of the 10.4million teetotallers. Those who said they do not drink at all rose from 19 % in 2005 to 22.8 % in 2017 among 16 to 24-year-olds.
While over-65s still had the highest levels of abstinence, they were the only group to show a reversing trend, falling from 29.4 % in 2005 to 24.2 % last year.
Dr Tony Rao, who specialises in substance misuse in older people at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said the general trend of hazardous drinking among the over-45s has increased since 2005.
He said: ‘We remain ill-equipped to meet a burgeoning problem and need to examine particularly why more older people are drinking.
‘This is a problem that is likely to grow out of control unless we address the affordability and availability of alcohol.’
A spokesman for the Alcohol Information Partnership, which is funded by drinks firms, said: ‘Whilst these figures show that professionals are more likely to have drunk in the previous week than manual workers, that doesn’t mean they are drinking irresponsibly. The data shows that the vast majority of UK citizens who drink alcohol do so sensibly.’
÷The number of patients dying as a result of alcohol has shot up by more than 10 % in a decade.
There were 5,507 deaths in England in 2016, 4 % higher than in 2015 and an increase of 11 % on 2006, figures from NHS Digital show
Alcoholic liver disease was responsible for four-fifths of deaths, with mental health problems, pancreatitis and accidental overdoses other causes.