The cryptocurrency market has since become a place where thousands of carious cryptocurrencies are available, individuals go into these markets to buy, sell, or exchange their cryptocurrencies for other digital currency or traditional currency. The exchanges take place on a daily basis, many cryptocurrencies are converted into major government-backed currencies, or into other cryptocurrencies. One attribute that has proven to be consistent is how incredibly volatile the market is. With this fact staring at many crypto enthusiasts in the face, it’s easy to get sucked into a cycle of speculation, wins, and losses amongst other things.
Addiction to the trading of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin is a behavioural addiction, like gambling addiction and compulsive online ‘day trading’ on the stock market. Call it one addition that is almost laughable, like all forms of gambling it can be highly addictive. For most people, crypto is rarely a full-fledged addiction that requires no treatment or a deep bout of soul searching. But for others, it’s a serious enigma that has ruined lives, jobs, relationships and so on. Crypto addiction is essentially a gambling addiction, and reports have shown that of all types of addictions, gambling has produced the highest suicide rate.
One of Europe’s leading addiction rehab clinics Castle Craig, which treats people suffering from a wide range of addictions to drugs and alcohol is also highlighting cryptocurrency addiction as an area of concern and offering treatment for addicts using techniques from gambling addiction programmes. The rehab clinic is tucked away in Peeblesshire, Scotland which is about 25 miles from the Scottish capital of Edinburg, Castle Craig is the world’s first rehabilitation clinic- to treat cryptocurrency addiction. The centre was established in 1988. According to the company website the “Clinic provides treatment for people addicted to trading, spread betting, and the trading of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, and more.”
Although there are no particular figures for the number of people addicted to cryptocurrency, however around 13 million people across the world are said to trade in the crypto market. Chris Burn, a gambling therapist at Castle Craig Hospital, said: “The high risk, fluctuating cryptocurrency market appeals to the problem gambler. Crypto trading diverges from gambling (and stock trading) through various characteristics including its 24 x 7 availability, its volatility, and the huge volume of social media that readily reinforces addicts’ out-of-control tendencies.
Given the rate at which interest in cryptocurrency trading continues to spread like wildfire across many nations of the world, the hospital records a significant rise in the number of inquiries for its cryptocurrency rehab program. According to the founder, Antony Marini, a former gambling and cocaine addict inquires for the rehab program has “shot up by a factor of 10 since last year.” Marini claims to be the first to have identified how the links between crypto trading and gambling, and how the addiction journey progresses from occasional trades and wins to long episodes of losses, desolation, and eventually, illegal acts and sometimes suicide. “Having been through it myself, my experience of addiction gives me insight and empathy towards others who have the same problem,” Marini said.
According to the clinic’s website “Some of the symptoms that cryptocurrency users should look out for (suggesting an addiction) are: feeling muscle tension and anxiety, constantly checking the prices online (even in the middle of the night), and thinking about cryptocurrency trading when doing other things.” Although not everyone who has access to the internet and trades or invests in cryptocurrencies daily is addicted to gambling, it can be difficult to tell the difference between having crypto as a passion or an addiction. Experienced therapists at Castle Craig are able to recognise an addiction to gambling, which include cryptocurrency trading by subjecting visitors to the use of various diagnostic questionnaires and therapeutic assessments.
Another trend that was noticed particularly for crypto addiction is that this, along with other behavioural obsessions, stems from the larger causes of extreme drug or alcohol dependencies, this treatment program benefited 15 clients in 2017 and has continued to benefit more people. Just like the famous 12-step program that has been adopted in the treatment of various kinds of addiction, Marini advocates for the same for the relatively nascent yet rapidly booming space of cryptocurrency trading addiction.
Treatment at Castle Craig residential rehab clinic involves intensive evidence-based therapies ranging from the 12 Steps, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), trauma therapy and equine therapy among others. These therapies are guaranteed to help the visitor understand their addiction, recognise the consequences (and the denial), identify what they want in place of gambling, build self-esteem, learn to manage debts and finances and finally learn assertiveness and impulse control.
Marini says “The first stage of treatment is to join other addicts in group therapy and share their life stories. This helps them identify with each other and realise that they’re not alone.” The program allows only a moderated diet of caffeine and nicotine and restricted access to phones to merely 2 hours per week. The 6-month rehab program for persons aged between 20-45 secured funding from the British National Health Services and extended services to countries like the UK, the US, Dubai, Malta, Ireland, and the Netherlands.