Study Guide

The Girl on the Train Drugs and Alcohol

By Paula Hawkins

Drugs and Alcohol

Public transportation is one of humanity's greatest equalizers. At some point, almost everyone will ride a train, bus, or subway, from a dishwasher to an advertising executive to an actor heading to an audition. And when you do, occasionally you'll meet someone who is so under the influence, they don't even know where they're going. Rachel in The Girl on the Train is like that. She's a hopeless drunk, even drinking on the train. So while there aren't any drugs on this train, the alcohol flows non-stop. Rachel makes sure of it.

Questions About Drugs and Alcohol

  1. Rachel is embarrassed of the way "drunk Rachel" acts. But does the alcohol bring out her true nature? Is alcohol a truth serum? Why or why not?
  2. What was the start of Rachel's alcoholism? Back your answer up with evidence from the text.
  3. Every character in the novel drinks, but how is Rachel's relationship with alcohol different from the way other characters drink?
  4. How do Rachel's blackouts affect her? How do they affect people around her who do not understand how her blackouts work?
  5. At the end of the book, Rachel is three weeks sober. Do you think this will stick? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Rachel's alcoholism is a (drunk) chicken or the (pickled) egg scenario: Until the end of the book, it's hard to tell if Tom's behavior drove Rachel to drink or Rachel's drinking caused Tom to act the way he did.

Rachel's drinking problem is a tricky balance. She drinks to forget, but if she drinks too much, she forgets permanently. She only wants a temporary fix, but many times she can't stop herself.