Author and reporter Maia Szalavitz talks about addiction in this Big Think youtube video. She says that addiction needs a new definition. The old definition was 'addiction is compulsive behavior despite negative consequences.' Under the old definition, cocaine was not defined as addictive because there were no withdrawals. She defines addiction as a learning disorder.
She says that people learn to associate the feeling of pleasure with the substance and then their biology changes. She analogizes being in love to being addicted. She says that in order to overcome the addiction, you need to find out what purpose the addiction serves.
This seems unhelpful because she's just saying that people with addiction generally have an underlying problem they're masking with their addiction. That just means that the person now has two problems they can't solve instead of one. That doesn't sound very revolutionary or very useful. However, the concept of addiction as a learning disorder interests me.