If you find yourself taking the “hold on for dear life,” or HODL, stance toward cryptocurrency to the extreme, and can’t help yourself when it comes to buying cryptocurrency, you may be addicted. That’s the view of experts at the Scotland-based Castle Craig Hospital, which expanded its rehab services to cover cryptocurrency addiction earlier this month.
Experts have long compared the thrill of cryptocurrency to day trading, both of which entail high degrees of risk. You’re essentially gambling with your money with crypto and with day trading, and the thrill of massive returns — and the potential addictive effects — create an emotional dependence that is not much different from gambling addiction.
“The high risk, fluctuating cryptocurrency market appeals to the problem gambler,” Castle Craig gambling therapist Chris Burn says. “It provides excitement and an escape from reality. Bitcoin, for example, has been heavily traded and huge gains & losses were made. It’s a classic bubble situation.”
Similar to those that might be addicted to casino table games or slots, the addicted trader spends most if not all of their money on cryptocurrency, and will “chase” their losses in attempts to win back lost money. They may borrow excessively or even steal, or experience mood swings and obsessive thoughts and actions, the hospital says.
Castle Craig plans to treat addicts using the same methods used for excessive gambling. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the primary tool, and teaches the person how to accept responsibility for their addiction and coping strategies, finding positive activities to replace the need for cryptocurrency trading, and most importantly how to manage their debts and finances appropriately.
The help is not cheap: according to WikiTribune, Treatments start at 2,975 British pounds (about $4,000) per week for a multi-occupancy room all the way up to 4,970 pounds (about $6,600) weekly for a private room. Considering most addiction programs are multi-step processes — Castle Craig’s is 12 — treatment could easily run into the tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.
While most won’t be able to afford the treatment out-of-pocket, the company says it offers payment plans, and in some cases a portion of the cost might be covered under public or private insurance. The company also operates clinics in at least six other European countries, however it’s not immediately clear if the program will be offered at those locations.
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