It has been close to a decade now since bitcoin came into being and in the rather short time it has existed it has had an immense transformative effect on internet culture. Aside from the many other digital currencies that have been spawned out of the philosophy that bitcoin brought to life, we now have a number of new developments and applications of the technology. Now, crypto traders and blockchain enthusiasts eagerly interact with each other and share speculation and upcoming token offerings among many other things. Also, I certainly cannot forget the thousands of world-wide meet-ups, summits, and conferences that have been held just for crypto.
All these points to the lighter side of crypto – apparently, there is a darker side to it. No, I do not mean the infamous use of digital currencies by criminals or Initial Coin Offering (ICO) scams. The darker side I am referring to is ‘crypto addiction.’
You will probably not find such a thing as ‘cryptocurrency trading addiction’ listed anywhere but it has grown enough to be an issue that a Scottish hospital is hoping to address as quickly as possible. Castle Craig Hospital, a rehabilitation center for addictions is now offering a cryptocurrency addiction program to help crypto traders who have taken it too far get back their lives.
“Cryptocurrency addiction is a behavioral addiction, similar to gambling addiction, and disrupts or damages personal, family relationships and recreational pursuits,” reads the hospital’s website.
The hospital’s staff clarified that people who are addicted to crypto show all the same signs and behaviors as gambling addicts; only, in this case, they have a 24/7 urge to mix and match cryptocurrencies despite suffering devastatingly huge and consistent losses.
“The high risk, fluctuating cryptocurrency market appeals to the problem gambler,” says Chris Burn, one of the gambling therapists at Castle Craig. “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.”
While most of the hard-core members of the crypto community are not buying the claim that crypto addiction is real, particularly because they are treating as a business where there are profit and losses, there are a few who agree with the initiative. For instance, Josh Olszewizc, a crypto trader and price analyst, believes that the gambling analogy that has been used to describe crypto addiction is indeed accurate to some extent.
“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,” he says.
Josh goes on to point out that, just like the in the case of gambling, media coverage in recent times has propagated get-rich-quick success stories in the crypto space, something that has fed the euphoria, fear, and greed that, in many cases, clouds people’s judgment. So, perhaps crypto addiction is a genuine concern after all.