This study is based on interviews with 53 male alcoholics. Its purpose was to study the relationship between childhood conditions, history of alcohol and drug misuse and assaultive and suicidal behaviour. Fifty-seven per cent of the alcoholics reported a history of violent behaviour. Hidden violence, often towards women, was common. One-third of the violent patients had a history of attempted suicide compared to 17% in the non-violent group. The assaultive alcoholics also had a more violent childhood, a higher proportion of fathers with alcohol problems and had started drinking earlier in life. Drug addiction was much more common in this group too. We find support for our hypothesis that there is a positive correlation between violence in the parental home and assaultive and suicidal behaviour and drug misuse later in life. When violent and non-violent alcoholics are compared many of the same characteristics appear as when suicidal and non-suicidal and type 2 and type 1 alcoholics are compared. This study raises the question of adding attempted suicide as a characteristic of the type 2 alcoholic.