The Balance rehab centre reports a significant increase in crypto addiction case numbers
The volatility of cryptocurrency and the fact that exchanges never close make it hard for investors to walk away
Crypto addiction has been shown to produce psychological symptoms such as stress, anxiety, sadness, and mania
From bizarre tech phenomena to near-mainstream investment opportunities, the rise of cryptocurrency has been an interesting one, and is still a subject of much debate. But amidst all the speculation relating to its validity, one serious issue has been overlooked. Cryptocurrency addiction. Whether it’s Bitcoin, Ether, Solana, Dogecoin, XLP, or any other of the tens of thousands of digital currencies now in play, more and more people are becoming hooked on crypto investment and tracking, and the impact is beginning to be felt.
Mallorcan rehabilitation centre, The Balance, has reported a ‘significant increase’ in crypto addiction cases throughout the last two years. And although the phenomenon is still relatively new, experts from the facility have estimated that about 10% of cryptocurrency traders will get into psychological difficulties with the topic at some point, and about 1% will really slide into a pathological addiction.
‘Some of our patients have earned triple-digit millions with crypto,’ explains Abdullah Boulad, founder and CEO of THE BALANCE. ‘But in the process, they have become addicted to this permanent thrill that has virtually destroyed their private lives.’
Part of the problem with cryptocurrency addiction is that unlike other forms of investment, the ‘market’ never closes. Crypto exchanges remain perpetually open, and prices fluctuate at all times of the day and night. And with the volatile nature of the currency, it is possible to make – or lose – a lot of money in a single day. This makes walking away from your trading platform psychologically hard, not to mention financially risky.
The characteristics of crypto addiction
It’s the fluctuations in cryptocurrencies that cause investors to constantly monitor prices. And this is underscored by the dopamine release that follows making a profit. This is the same ‘dopamine rush’ that alcoholics seek, causing them to consume more to achieve the same effect. And that is the start of the cycle. The euphoric feeling, opportunity for huge gains, and the anxiety experienced when away from a trading platform are what hold the potential for an addiction to begin. While at the other end of the scale, the lows of trading for investors (falling prices) are comparable to the withdrawal symptoms experienced by alcoholics and drug addicts. Each low they suffer leads them to want to chase the ‘next high’ in the hope that things will become more profitable. And the fallout can be devastating.
Although much more research needs to be conducted in this area, it is believed that addiction to cryptocurrencies can lead to psychological symptoms such as stress, anxiety, sadness, and mania. It can also trigger insomnia, and stimulant abuse, as traders resort to the likes of caffeine, Adderall, and cocaine in order to stay awake and trade longer. This in turn can produce side effects including visual or auditory hallucinations, which can resemble symptoms of more serious mental illnesses.
How to identify cryptocurrency addiction?
The first signs of cryptocurrency addiction are behavioural. If a person’s actions are centred around cryptocurrency – if their first action upon waking is to check their crypto exchange, or if thoughts of crypto rates become a primary occupation, it’s a good indication that an addiction is beginning to form. If this occupation then begins to impact upon an individual’s relationships or regular activities, it can be a good idea to seek help.
Other related symptoms can include mood swings, unexplained depression, restlessness, irritability, and anxiety. Alongside physical symptoms such as trembling and sweating.
‘Systematically, crypto addiction is little different from the other addictions we usually deal with. The only difference is that it often affects a different class of people: young, educated, ambitious and, before that, having both feet on the ground in life,’ explains Abdullah Boulad. ‘Treatment usually follows the classic paths: cognitive behavioural therapy coupled with other holistic programmes, which is also known from alcohol addiction therapy. This is how we have been able to help all our patients so far. The most difficult part here is actually the first step: admitting to yourself that you really have a problem – especially if you have been very successful financially in the past.’