While it’s not there yet, cryptocurrency trading is gradually approaching mainstream adoption. It’s a phenomenon in the investing world, but its safety is questionable. While some people have made millions buying cryptocurrency, others have lost everything.
Is cryptocurrency trading a form of gambling and, if it is, can one become addicted? There’s a strong argument to be made that the answers to both questions are yes.
According to Kevin Davis, a leading financial expert in Australia, when one buys a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, chances are they’re doing it not to make a payment but because they believe someone will be willing to pay more for the Bitcoin in the future (Sydney Morning Herald, July 1, 2022). While Davis says that it’s different from other forms of gambling, where the outcome of a horse race or a sports contest determines the gain or loss, he still sees it as gambling.
With excessive cryptocurrency trading, an individual risks money on a highly volatile commodity in hopes of making a substantial return. It is similar to gambling on high-risk stocks like margins and options.
Surging prices of cryptocurrency can bring a rush of dopamine. Regular “hits” of dopamine stemming from the volatility of cryptocurrency – as well as the fact that it can be traded at any time – can produce addiction more easily than stock trading, which has a market that’s less volatile and has limited trading hours.
Indeed, there are specific signs of cryptocurrency addiction according to Family Addiction Specialist (familyaddictionspecialist.com). These include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. Taking on increased risk without much strategy or needing to make bigger wagers in order to receive satisfaction or excitement.
2. Obsession with researching and trading cryptocurrencies or having a preoccupation or compulsion to constantly check prices.
3. Losing interest in social and leisure activities once found pleasurable at the expense of engaging in trading.
4. Trading for an adrenaline rush or to induce pleasure.
5. Unsuccessful attempts at reducing time spent on trading and trading-related activities, or unsuccessful attempts from taking a break or abstaining from trading-related activities.
6. Trading compulsively or experiencing strong urges and cravings to engage in trading-related activities.
7. Experiencing stress, anxiety, a low mood, irritability, insomnia, anger or other unwanted and unhealthy mental health symptoms when trading or when unable to trade.
8. Lying or hiding trading or trading-related activities from loved ones.
9. Stealing, taking loans, selling assets or using money that should be spent on bills or necessities in order to make trades.
10. Continuing to trade despite adverse consequences to financial stability, relationships, physical and mental wellbeing, or other important life areas.
If you or a loved one is struggling with cryptocurrency addiction, call the Minnesota Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-333-4673 (HOPE) for free confidential help.