Psychiatric patients with alcohol problems are generally considered more challenging to treat and more demanding of public psychiatric services than other patients. This study of new admissions to a county mental health system in California examined differences between problem drinkers and nonproblem drinkers in clinical and demographic characteristics and in the demands they placed on services. Problem drinkers experienced more severe emotional distress at intake; were more likely to have financial, legal, and employment problems; and were more likely to be involved with illicit drugs. They made greater demands on clinical resources and also required more social services, such as income supports, case management, and vocational services. The study indicates that to meet the varied needs of psycbiatric patients with drinking problems, public mental health services should develop stronger ties not only with substance abuse services but also with social service and criminal justice agencies.