For a few months now, addiction to cryptocurrency – decentralized, electronic money – has become a public health issue. Because of their volatile nature, cryptocurrencies seduce individuals who, like some gamers, hope to make significant gains, quickly.
The most famous cryptocurrency is bitcoin. It’s extremely volatile. In 2017, the price of one bitcoin fluctuated between 1,000 and 20,000 dollars, before finally settling in at around 7,000 dollars today. The potential gains are therefore attractive to players who also have the choice between many trading platforms. Moreover, the Internet is teaming with success stories that conceal the failures, however more frequent those may be.
But some health centers are now trying to address the sense of disillusion that comes with a failed bitcoin venture. Castle Craig Clinic in Scotland announced on May 28 that it will now include cryptocurrency addiction in its gambling addiction program. In a statement, the clinic warned that cryptocurrency trading can be “exciting but also addictive and, like a gambling addiction, financially disastrous.”
Cryptocurrency addiction can have the same negative effects as compulsive trading on the stock market or gambling. But it is not always easy to differentiate the reasonable behavior of savvy investors from those of compulsive gamblers.
To find out whether you’re addicted to cryptocurrency, you should ask yourself 10 questions provided by Castle Craig and published by Business Insider. If you answer “yes” to at least five questions, you may suffer from a pathological addiction and should be in therapy, Castle Craig says. Here are some of the questions: Do I spend a lot of money on cryptocurrency? Has my cryptocurrency trading habit had an effect on my social life or my work? Do I get agitated or irritable if I try to reduce my screen time related to cryptocurrency? Unfortunately, most “players” don’t begin therapy until their addiction has had serious social or financial consequences.
In an interview with Vice, Chris Burn, Castle Craig’s addiction therapist, explains that it’s rare to find people who are addicted to cryptocurrencies alone. Generally, this condition is accompanied by a more general addiction to gaming, with similar symptoms: the search for stimulus, progressive isolation, anxiety, even suicide. Treatment often looks like those used for gambling addicts.
Besides the necessary introspection, compulsive gamblers must undertake behavioral therapy, which invites them to question themselves and how they relate to the world. Animal therapy, discussion sessions, close psychological supervision are all tools to help the “player” find a healthy life. The goal is for the “player” to give up old habits, which may also require him or her to relinquish a credit card to a loved one or reduce his or her access to a computer.
According to Chris Burn, we must shatter the air of mystery surrounding cryptocurrencies. They are powerful, habit-forming things, which we must understand from a medical perspective.