Out of Crypto, a 'Particularly Dangerous' Addiction

Investors are increasingly seeking out therapists, who say crypto addicts are akin to gambling addicts
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2022 7:36 AM CST
Have a Crypto Addiction? You're Not Alone
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Jirapong Manustrong)

(Newser) – If you follow the roller-coaster ride that is Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other forms of cryptocurrency, you're familiar with the feelings that go along with that habit, especially if you're an investor. And they're not always pleasant feelings, according to mental health experts who say they're seeing an upswing in clients seeking out therapy for crypto addiction, reports Quartz. Those who are deep into crypto are having trouble sleeping, experiencing anxiety and depression, and otherwise feeling all the ups and downs that accompany other kinds of addiction, including gambling.

Making things worse is that, like the casinos in Vegas, a crypto habit is accessible 24/7. "Unlike the stock market, crypto never sleeps," therapist Patty Fiore tells Quartz. "You can trade it 24 hours a day. It's a drug that is consistently available." Admitted addicts tell Vice it's a wild, uncomfortable ride: One cites "sleepless nights and constant stress and anxiety," while another, who says he's developed back and neck pain from the mental tension, even though he's actually profited over the past year from his investments, notes, "Crypto will wreck you emotionally and physically. You will get scarred for life."

Tony Marini is a therapist at Scotland's Castle Craig Hospital, said to offer the first crytocurrency addiction center, and he tells Insider that people get hooked on crypto trading for the same reason they can't stop gambling: "When you are regularly trading, the excitement of it rewards the pleasure-seeking part of the brain. When the kind of trading you're doing is no longer exciting, you switch to something more risky." He notes that crypto is a "particularly dangerous" addiction, however, in that you won't necessarily see obvious signs in a loved one, as you might with a drug or alcohol addiction.

Some of those signs include irritability, a loss of self-confidence, theft of valuables or draining of bank accounts, and isolation from others, Marini notes. He also says that it's common for those addicted to crypto to also have "cross addictions"—meaning they're simultaneously indulging another addiction, such as doing coke or exercising obsessively. He advises people who recognize this battle within themselves to seek assistance, simply by reaching out to a therapist or a facility that deals with any kind of gambling issues. "Take it from someone who understands: It's possible to get help," he says. (Read more cryptocurrency stories.)

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