The Alarming Rise of Substance Abuse in the World of Crypto Trading

The Link Between Cryptocurrency Trading and Substance Abuse

Although documented statistics about cryptocurrency trading and substance abuse are hard to come by, addiction experts are treating an increasing number of crypto traders. Abdullah Boulard, founder and CEO at The Balance Luxury Rehab, tells Magazine that a number of crypto traders struggle with substance abuse.

According to Boulard, the high intensity of cryptocurrency trading combined with 24/7 accessibility encourages some to use stimulants to keep up the pace. “Substances like amphetamines, cocaine and even excessive caffeine use are common among these individuals,” says Boulard.

Caroline Ellison, the former CEO of Alameda Research, tweeted about the use of stimulants in April 2021. New York Magazine subsequently reported that a successful trader who met with Ellison commented about her use of stimulants and their overall effects on members of the community.

Prior to that, in September 2019, the former CEO of disgraced cryptocurrency exchange FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried, tweeted about his use of stimulants and sleeping pills.

Boulard also sees a lot of patients who use benzodiazepines, commonly known as “downers” or “benzos.” He believes that traders use these prescription drugs to cope with anxiety and insomnia, symptoms likely created by the highs and lows of trading and by the use of the stimulants. Boulard says that alcohol is used for the same purpose.

Dr. Lawrence Weinstein, chief medical officer at American Addiction Centers agrees. Weinstein tells Magazine, “Alcohol use disorder is also common among those with a gambling disorder, of which cryptocurrency trading is a subtype.”

Cryptocurrency trading addiction is increasingly becoming a problem for some members of the community. According to Weinstein, compulsive trading addiction and substance abuse can go hand in hand.

A case study authored by Dr. Harun Olcay Sonkurt of Anadolu Hospital in Turkey presents a 30-year-old research student addicted to cryptocurrency trading and alcohol. The student started out trading Bitcoin and soon added altcoins to his portfolio. After just a few months, he started to trade margins and subsequently lost more than two year’s worth of his salary.

Weinstein believes that behaviors like cryptocurrency trading can cause increases and decreases in the neurotransmitter dopamine, just like alcohol and some drugs. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that the body produces and that the nervous system uses to send messages between cells.

Chronic behaviors like addictive crypto trading and the use of substances alter brain circuitry and cause pathological changes. At this point, individuals no longer have the element of choice. The brain has created new neural connections, and the individual requires the substance to function normally.

Although some cryptocurrency traders who struggle with substance abuse lose it all, some are very successful. Disciplined, experienced traders can make a lot of money very quickly. Even newbies can strike it rich for a little while if they bet on the right coin.

Boulard believes that “access to vast financial resources can exacerbate substance abuse if it remains untreated,” and Weinstein says that having the means to sustain an addiction indefinitely can make it worse and prolong it.

Treatment for cryptocurrency trading addiction includes detoxification, psychotherapy, holistic therapies like mindfulness training and yoga, dietary adjustments, and financial counseling. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most common form of therapy used in the treatment of process or behavioral addictions.

While it’s theoretically possible to overcome addiction without formal treatment, professional help dramatically improves success rates and reduces the likelihood of relapse.

It’s important to address both the addiction and any co-occurring mental health conditions for the best outcomes.

Overall, the link between cryptocurrency trading and substance abuse is a growing concern, and it’s crucial to raise awareness and provide support for those struggling with these issues.

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