We all indulge in guilty pleasures from time to time. Whether it’s chocolate, alcohol or something completely different, everyone has something that tantalizes their senses. For some people, that “something” is cryptocurrency. Now, a hospital in Scotland is working to help those who have taken their love of crypto a bit too far.
Castle Craig Hospital — Scotland’s largest addiction treatment facility — has developed a center specifically dedicated to help cryptocurrency addicts. Representatives explain that “cryptocurrency users can get hooked by the volatile fluctuation of prices online which creates a ‘high’ when they buy or trade a winning currency” and that “this can be exciting but also addictive and … financially disastrous.”
Individuals addicted to crypto-trading show all the same signs and behaviors as gambling addicts; only this time, they are dealing with a 24/7 urge to mix and match digital assets despite suffering consistent (and occasionally devastating) losses.
“The high risk, fluctuating cryptocurrency market appeals to the problem gambler,” says Chris Burn, a gambling therapist at the hospital. “It provides excitement and an escape from reality. Bitcoin, for example, has been heavily traded and huge gains and losses were made. It’s a classic bubble situation.”
Josh Olszewicz, a popular crypto-trader and price analyst, agrees with the gambling analogy and says there are definite similarities between the two. Speaking with Bitcoin Magazine, he stated, “Many of the newer market participants treat crypto like a giant casino, and bet the farm on the equivalent of penny stocks only to lose all their money. It’s certainly no different than run-of-the-mill gambling addiction. You have people risking their rent money or lunch money and then it spirals out of control very quickly. Too many people treat crypto as a binary option, and just throw away money constantly.”
Olszewicz also pointed out that recent media coverage focusing on the get-rich-quick success stories in the crypto space tends to feed into the “euphoria, fear and greed” that can cloud people’s judgment.
The hospital offers patients many of the same treatments as they would to gambling addicts, including group therapy. Participants sit together and share the experiences that led them to their current situations.
Former gambling and cocaine addict Tony Marini now works as a counselor with the hospital and leads some of the remedy programs. He’s looking to help the patients find focus in their lives, which he believes is the key to overcoming any addiction.
“Having been through it myself, my experience of addiction gives me insight and empathy towards others who have the same problem,” he explained.
So, how does one know if they’re addicted to cryptocurrency? Castle Craig Hospital has produced a list of 10 questions that individuals can ask themselves. If they answer “yes” to 5 or more, they likely fall into the “addict” category.
Some of the questions include:
- Am I spending large amounts on cryptocurrency?
- Do I become restless or irritable if I try to cut down my screen time related to cryptocurrency?
- Do I carry on trading in cryptocurrency after losing money — to try to gain it back?
Despite the hospital’s insistence, many are unconvinced that cryptocurrency addiction is a valid issue. Niko da Costa Gomez, for instance, is a frequent cryptocurrency trader who’s been making a profit on his investments. He doesn’t think a crypto-based rehabilitation program is necessary, nor does he believe anyone can become addicted — unless they’re very rich.
Manav Singhal, CEO of blockchain startup Velix.ID, agrees and says the regular losses hospital executives speak of are just a natural part of the investment process.
“Profits and losses are just a part of the trading, and it is no different than trading any other kinds of securities,” he states. “Gambling addicts are just that — gambling addicts. They can choose any addiction they want, and it can be cryptocurrencies, but that doesn’t mean that a majority of cryptocurrency traders are addicts. There’re many reasons that make you trade cryptocurrencies frequently, given how fast things are changing in the industry.”