A study was conducted to investigate transactional patterns of the supra system formed by the multigenerational alcoholic family and relevant larger systems, and to provide an interactional perspective of the problem drinker's involvement with his entire ecosystem. Using a case study method, four such systems were studied. Conjoint family interviews were videotaped and analyzed according to a systemic assessment format focusing on family rules, myths, and metaphoric communication. Interaction trends common to all four systems were identified, revealing a prevalence of intense family involvement with outsiders, involving a primary focus of organization around the family' s need to retain locus of control within the family. Drinking appeared to serve a transgenerational function as a metaphor for the family's relationship to larger systems. The sociocultural context for the four supra systems was viewed as significant in determining sex-role expectations affecting the families' relation to larger systems. Chronicity and recidivism are described as being hypothetically related to the historically neglected recognition of the family-larger system, supra system, as the significant treatment unit. Recommendations for future research and for clinical interventions that would adhere to the systemic Milan approach to family rules and secrets are presented. It is contended that the use of metaphor is the most viable approach in both assessing and intervening in systems of this type.