Objective: To determine whether the states of the Deep South are characterized by contradictory drinking norms: high abstinence paired with high consumption among drinkers. Method: Comparison of survey results of drinking patterns (N = 65,216) in four states of the Deep South (Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi) to those in leading states in the East (New York), Midwest (Illinois), Rocky Mountains (Colorado) and West (California)for the years 1990-93. Respondents were selected by random-digit dialing and interviewed by telephone as part of a larger study conducted by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Results: A higher proportion of persons drank alcohol in 1993 than in any of the previous 3 years. Persons with higher education, with higher income, of younger age, male, white and not living in the Deep South were more likely to drink. Among drinkers, the likelihood of episodic heavy drinking decreased with higher education, income and age. In addition, women, blacks and married respondents were less likely to report heavy drinking. Region of residence is not significantly associated with episodic heavy drinking. Conclusions: The Deep South has a significantly higher proportion of abstainers from alcohol use than other regions. Among drinkers, Southerners are not more likely to engage in occasions of heavy drinking. The results are discussed in relation to Southern culture and drinking norms.