The ideas that peer pressure and low self-esteem cause youth drug use lie behind many drug education programmes in Britain. Such ideas divert responsibility away from the drug user and from their parents and other carers, and conform to popular views that people misuse drugs because they are inadequate. However, the evidence for these views is poor. Peer pressure could be more appropriately interpreted as peer preference and high self-esteem can be associated with drug use. Drug education strategies need to be reviewed in the light of these insights.