Former News of the World reporter and whistleblower Sean Hoare used alcohol "as a crutch" to cope with the stress generated by the phone hacking scandal, a coroner has said.
Hertfordshire Coroner Edward Thomas said Mr Hoare, who suffered from alcoholic liver disease, died of natural causes.
He said the reporter had used drink to help him cope with the pressure "generated by breaking the News International story".
His body was found at his home in Watford on July 18. He is thought to have been dead for some time.
The coroner said Mr Hoare, 48, who had claimed his former editor Andy Coulson was "well aware" of phone hacking at the paper, had done "extremely well" in abstaining from alcohol, and did not drink for a year after being diagnosed with liver disease.
However in December last year he began drinking again as he became caught up in the phone-hacking scandal, the half-hour inquest at Hatfield Coroner's Court heard.
Mr Thomas said of the hospital reports: "He was indicating that he was using alcohol as a crutch as he was under stress due to the interest generated by breaking the News International story."
He added that there was then a "steady decline" and he was told he had irreversible liver disease in May.
Mr Hoare last saw his GP on July 7 after he stubbed his toe and it became infected. At this stage he said he was drinking around four units of alcohol a week.
He was last seen by a neighbour on July 13, and also spoke to members of his family on the phone that day. The inquest was told his wife, Jo, was on holiday with her mother at the time as she had thought he was well enough to leave.