Study Guide

The Girl on the Train Drugs and Alcohol

By Paula Hawkins

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Drugs and Alcohol

It's Friday, so I don't have to feel guilty about drinking on the train. TGIF. The fun starts here. (1.7)

Rachel eases us into her drinking problem early. Sure, it's a little odd that she's drinking on the train, but she makes it seem like other people do it. (If other people do it, it must be okay, right? Right?) We don't know yet that Friday means nothing to her. She's unemployed, so this excuse that it's Friday doesn't wash.

It's less acceptable to drink on the train on a Monday, unless you're drinking with company, which I am not. (1.16)

Rachel seems to look for little excuses to make her drinking more acceptable. But she doesn't stop drinking when she can't find an excuse…

Some days I feel so bad that I have to drink; some days I feel so bad that I can't. (1.44)

Usually the days Rachel feels so bad she can't drink are the days she feels bad about drinking. If she's feeling bad about something else, she drinks, even if most of her problems are a result of her drinking at their core.

Blackouts happen, and it isn't just a matter of being a bit hazy about getting home from the club or forgetting what it was that was so funny when you were chatting in the pub. It's different. Total black; hours lost, never to be retrieved. (7.34)

1, 2, 3… 1, 2, 3, drink. Rachel gets so drunk she can't even count to three. If the train had a chandelier, she'd be swinging from it… and she wouldn't remember it the next day.

The van burst into flames and six people died. The drunk guy was fine. They always are. He had no memory of getting into his car. (7.35)

Rachel has a kind of survivor's guilt over her drinking. As far as she can tell, drunks always seem to hurt other people while they themselves (their liver excluded) remain physically fine.

I lost and I drank and I drank and I lost. (7.119)

Rachel's alcoholism is a rough cycle. Even though she realizes that it causes more problems than it solves, she can't stop.

Then [Cathy] told me that she was going to spend the weekend at Damien's, and the first thing I thought was that I'm going to get home tonight and have a drink without anyone judging me. (9.14)

In order for Rachel to stop drinking, she needs to start judging herself and not waiting for other people to do it for her.

I would dearly love to have a drink, but I can't. I need to keep a clear head. For Megan. For Scott. (11.1)

This is a temporary solution. Rachel won't stop drinking for good until she realizes she needs to keep a clear head for herself.

I pour [the wine] into a mug (just in case Cathy comes down—I can pretend it's tea) and put the bottle in the bin (making sure to conceal it under a milk carton and a crisp packet). (15.148)

Rachel's alcoholism causes her to deceive Cathy, hurting their friendship and the environment. Look at her—she just put that bottle in the trash instead of the recycling bin. We are all paying for Rachel's bad habits.

"Are you all right?" I ask him, and he grins at me. He's been drinking. (27.12)

This is one of the few situations in the book when we see how alcohol negatively affects other people. Scott becomes angry and physically abusive when he is drunk.

The Girl on the Train Drugs and Alcohol Study Group

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