The number of liver disease deaths caused by alcohol has doubled in the past 20 years, according to doctors.

Specialists say the number of young people, in particular women, presenting with advanced liver disease is "distressing".

Professor Frank Murray, of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland's Alcohol Policy Group said: "There's been a very big increase in the number of women presenting with the catastrophic consequences of alcohol intake.

“Frequently women drink socially at home, so they may be drinking half a bottle of wine at home at night and maybe a bottle of wine on the weekends each day," Mr Murray said.

Many are in their 30's and 40's when they present to hospital with cirrhosis of the liver, an irreversible condition, which brings with it a very high risk of dying.

Meanwhile, a study carried out on behalf of the drinks industry, has found that alcohol consumption in Ireland has declined and is now at pre-1990 levels.

The largest fall, according to the report, was in the consumption of spirits (11.9%), followed by wine (8.9%), and beer (6.2%).

However, Ireland is still close to the top of the European league tables when it comes to binge drinking.

Alcohol Awareness Week, an initiative led by Alcohol Forum, runs from 31 March until 4 April.

Now in its second year the focus is 'Alcohol's Harm to Others, When Someone else's Drinking Becomes Your Problem.'