The author reports a prospective study of the mental health and alcohol use of 184 men first studied during their college years. When the men were 50 years old a rater blind to all other data classified the subjects' alcohol use as little (N = 48), social (N = 110), or abuse (N = 26). The warmth of the men's childhood environment and their personality stability in college were assessed by other raters blind to data on subjects' lives after college. Vignettes identifying "oral" adult behavior (pessimism, self-doubt, passivity, and dependence) were collected for each man by a rater blind to subjects' alcohol use and childhood ratings. Poor childhood, personality instability in college, and adult evidence of personality disorder were correlated with oral-dependent behavior but not with alcohol abuse. The 26 problem drinkers seem to have been depressed and unable to cope as a consequence--not a cause--of their inability to control their alcohol consumption.