Albert Einstein supposedly said that no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. To change any social issue, it seems important to understand it. Knowledge is an important component to social change, and the knowledge of the physiological mechanisms of addiction could significantly affect society's response to addicts and addiction. Historically speaking, there have been a variety of medical and psychological conditions that were grossly misunderstood by society. It was only through more accurate understanding that people found new ways to resolve these issues.
Kuhar (2010) described addiction as a brain-based disorder, and some individuals may be more susceptible to addiction than others. Kendler, Karkowski, Corey, Prescott and Neale (1999) found that genetic factors account for differences in individuals' vulnerability. So, although people may become addicts for a variety of reasons, at least half of the culpability lies within an individual's genes. Personally speaking, understanding the scientific explanation leaves me believing that I can no more blame an addict for his or her addiction than I can blame an obese individual for his or her diabetes. Both likely have underlying psychological issues that would be better acknowledged and attended to, and both have biological issues that need to be addressed as well. Understanding the biology behind the disease gives me a different perspective - one I believe would benefit society, especially those who have friends and family who are or have been addicts.
Kendler, K.S., Karkowski, L.M., Corey, L.A., Prescott, C.A. & Neale, M.C. (1999) Genetic and environmental risk factors in the aetiology of illicit drug initiation and subsequent misuse in women. British Journal of Psychiatry 175: 351–356
Kuhar, M. J. (2010). Contributions of basic science to understanding addiction. Biosocieties, 5(1), 25-35. doi:10.1057/biosoc.2009.5