Although still shrouded in a veil of mystery to many, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have fast become a staple in the headlines. Something not always touched upon, however, is the addictive nature linked with trading these virtual currencies. A top rehab facility in Scotland is dedicated to tackling this growing social epidemic by providing treatment for ‘crypto addicts’.
Encompassed by breathtaking countryside in the Scottish Borders, Castle Craig Hospital in Peeblesshire is a widely respected residential rehabilitation centre and one of Europe’s leading rehab clinics. After receiving numerous requests to treat cryptocurrency addiction, the centre will now highlight this area of concern in the form of pioneering treatment options.
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Experts liken cryptocurrency trading addiction to compulsive online gambling. A sign of the times, addictions to day-trading, spread betting and the trading of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple and Litecoin all fall under the umbrella of a gambling addiction. Due to this, Castle Craig medical professionals will treat these patients within the already-established gambling rehab treatment programme.
Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Behavioural Addiction at Nottingham Trent University, told Castle Craig, ‘Addiction to cryptocurrencies is a sub-type of online day-trading addiction. I see these as akin to gambling addiction.’
The Scottish rehab centre uses a multi-disciplinary approach, in tandem with an intensive, personalised programme and evidence-based therapies to treat a wide array of addiction illnesses including alcohol, drugs, gambling, trauma and PTSD, eating disorders, depression, anxiety and more.
It’s believed that around 13 million people worldwide trade in the cryptocurrency market, but there are currently no set statistics or figures about the number of people battling this kind of addiction. Based on the amount of people trading, however, it seems likely that there’s more than meets the eye.
The high from buying and trading winning currencies is ultimately what hooks cryptocurrency users. They become addicted to the adrenaline rush and excitement. However, it’s an extremely volatile system, with online prices fluctuating at astronomical rates. Much like other addictions, the financial, mental and social ramifications can have devastating effects.
Chris Burn, a gambling therapist at Castle Craig Hospital, states that ‘the high-risk, fluctuating cryptocurrency market appeals to the problem gambler. 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.’
As any type of addiction can cause social isolation and low self-esteem, patients at the Scottish rehab will be introduced to a life structure and also partake in group therapy. Castle Craig therapist and former gambling and cocaine addict Tony Marini said, ‘I see cryptocurrency trading as a way for people to escape from themselves, into another world, because they don’t like the world they’re in.’
He added that ‘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 they’re not alone.’
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