The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between negative life events and chronic stressors and drinking behaviour. Data suggested that some life events (getting divorced) and some chronic stressors (financial difficulties, unfavourable marital status, and unfavourable employment status) were positively related to abstinence among men and women. Furthermore, some life events (being a victim of a crime, decrease in financial position, divorce or reporting two or more life events) were positively associated with heavy drinking among men. Chronic stressors, such as unfavourable marital status and unfavourable employment status, were also related to heavy drinking among both men and women. Results presented here suggest that people under stressful conditions are more likely to either abstain or drink heavily rather than to drink lightly or moderately.