Concerns have been raised that the great majority of alcoholics are not getting any treatment.

Public Health England estimates, based on a survey of 7,500 adults across England, that some 2,988 people are suffering from alcoholism across Dorset.

However it says only 23 per cent of the estimated number of alcoholics in the Dorset County Area attended 'stop-drinking' therapy.

This is significantly above the national average of 19 per cent, with Poole at 17 per cent and Bournemouth at 14 per cent.

Mental health and alcohol charities have called on the Government to increase funding for these services and simplify the application process for psychological support.

James Nicholls, director of research and policy development at Alcohol Research UK, said: "In some local authorities cuts in alcohol services have been enormous.

"In some cases this means there are not alcohol specialists, and alcohol and drug dependents are mixed in therapies. That is not a welcoming environment for them.

"In other cases budget cuts led to the closure of treatment programmes in small suburbs or towns, so patients have to move somewhere else, making the accessibility more challenging."

The survey results suggested men were more likely than women to drink at hazardous levels, and men and women claiming benefits were more likely to be harmful or mildly dependent drinkers than those who were not.

The latest Public Health England data, from 2016, shows different success rates around the county.

Among those who attended therapy in Dorset, 45 per cent completed the treatment successfully, below the England average of 39 per cent.

Patients are considered successful if they do not need further medical support for six months after completing the therapy.

In Poole 41 per cent had successful treatments, and 29 per cent in Bournemouth.

Julie Breslin, alcohol specialist for mental health charity Addaction, said the low proportion of drinkers receiving assistance in Dorset was down to public budget cuts.

She added: "Cuts in local authority funding, up to half in some cases, means services are expected to see more people with fewer resources.

"Dependent alcohol use will often present with other complex issues including socio-economic problems, cognitive impairment, depression and health issues.

"It's crucial that service design makes sure treatment is as accessible and flexible as possible."

Kelly Feehan, services director at public health charity CABA, added: "One of the major issues is the stigma around asking for help, because they not only have to admit they have a problem, but also that they can't cope with it.

"Alcoholism affects people both physically and mentally, and whilst many are familiar with the physical side effects that the condition can present, the mental impact can often go under the radar."

In response, a Department of Health spokesperson said: “Local authorities are best placed to make choices about services for their community which is why decisions about public health spending sit with them.

“Figures show drug abuse and alcohol consumption are falling, but we will not be complacent. We have shown that we are willing to take tough action to protect the public’s health – as the first country in Europe to legislate for standardised packaging of cigarettes, by introducing a comprehensive Drugs Strategy and in publishing a world-leading childhood obesity plan.”