Fewer people bought alcohol as the recession hit spending, but the number of alcohol-related deaths has risen 26% in 10 years, figures have revealed.
In 2009, men in the UK consumed 16.3 units a week on average, down from 17.4 the previous year, and the figure for women was eight units, down from 9.4.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures also showed that the number of deaths fell throughout the year - 8,664 alcohol-related deaths in 2009, which was 367 fewer than in 2008.
Don Shenker, Chief Executive of Alcohol Concern, said: "Government alcohol policy should ensure alcohol becomes less affordable permanently, not just in an economic downturn."
The figures mirror data published last September by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).
It showed the sharpest year-on-year decline in alcohol consumption since 1948. Overall, there was a 6% fall in 2009 - the fourth annual drop in five years.
The ONS data published also show a continuing trend regarding middle-class drinking.
More than a third (35%) of women in professional and managerial households exceeded the recommended alcohol intake on at least one day in the week prior to interview compared with 23% of those on lower incomes.
For men, the figure was 41% in professional and managerial households, compared to 34% of men in manual jobs.
"Alcohol should be consumed on licensed premises where there is a qualified licensee on duty. Supermarkets should be banned from selling alcohol as they have shown that they can not do it responsibly!" - Richard Moore, Newcastle