I recently heard a lecture by Warren Meck, in which he explained how addiction could be explained in terms of learning. The body, in an attempt to achieve homeostasis, produces an effect that, more or less, has the opposite effect of the drug to which you have become addicted. Therefore, when you reach for the stimulants, your body makes with the depressants. The intense craving experienced by drug addicts can be explained by the fact that, at times, this second, learned process (i.e. the endogenous dep
ressants) can occur without the presence of the stimulants. How does this occur? Meck's sources (damned if I can figure out who they are from my notes) state that one begins to associate cues through Pavlovian behavioral learning which make the second reaction occur. So if you're used to shooting up while watching Gilligan's Island, then any time you watch Gilligan's Island, this second process will occur. Therefore, if someone was to move to Morocco (where they don't have Gilligan's Island) and become
clean for 12 years only to return to America to see Nick-at-Nite's 24 hour Gilligan-a-thon, he would either fall into a deep depression brought on by this learned response or return to his old habits. Therefore, if this new drug affects addiction by affecting memory, it could be that what it is really doing is destroying the cells which have learned this response, possibly even enabling new responses.
Actually, I believe Meck used a Doors CD to illustrate his point, but I've always been partial to Gilligan's Island.
As far as the ethics go, I have no answer to that, I can only refer you to the economical side of things, where you might find that the cost of drug abuse in this country (in terms of destructive actions to obtain drugs, missed work for drug related reasons, inefficiency caused by drugs) you might find the ethical question to be horribly bogged down in reality. I'm afraid I missed the original article, though, so my opinions on this matter might be a little irrelevant.