A hospital in Scotland is believed to be the first to open a treatment centre for people addicted to trading cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
Castle Craig Hospital in Peeblesshire has taken the step of creating a residential treatment course for ‘crypto addicts.’ The aim is to help those deal with the underlying issues and learn to live without it.
According to experts, the fluctuating nature of the cryptocurrency market can appeal to problem gamblers, whereas the trading of digital currencies can produce a behavioural problem that is similar to gambling with traders becoming obsessed about following market prices, reports Sky News.
“It provides excitement and an escape from reality,” said Chris Burns, a gambling therapist at Castle Craig Hospital. “Bitcoin, for example, has been heavily traded and huge gains and losses were made. It’s a classic bubble situation.”
Even though there are no figures for the number of people addicted to cryptocurrency, it’s thought that there are roughly 13 million people around the world who trade in the market.
In recent months, the industry has seen a surge in interest from traders keen to get involved in the sector. Mid-December saw Bitcoin prices rise to within touching distance of $20,000 for the first time. Yet, since then the market has dropped considerably in price. At the time of publishing, Bitcoin is trading at $7,151, according to CoinMarketCap, representing a near 14 percent decline in seven days.
This most recent drop in price could be down to the fact that the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has launched a criminal investigation into whether traders are manipulating the prices of cryptocurrencies. The U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has also opened 24 investigations into unauthorised cryptocurrency businesses. While the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), has warned eight cryptocurrency exchanges in the country not to allow trading in digital tokens that are securities or futures contracts without the regulator’s permission.
With the industry undergoing a bear market amid a selloff in coins, and Bitcoin failing to capitalise on a slight uptick in price last week, the cryptocurrency risks dropping to $6,900, a figure considered important for the bulls. Due to these uncertain times, traders will be focusing more attention on the direction of where the market is heading.
It’s not known how many people have been treated at the Scottish centre or how many will actually turn to it for help. However, given that experts believe it has many similarities with gambling it may be that more crypto treatment centres will open in the future in response to dealing with cryptocurrency trading addiction.
Toni Marini, a former gambling and cocaine addict, will be running some of the treatments at the centre. In his opinion, a life structure in important for addicts.
“Having been through it myself, my experience of addiction gives me insight and empathy towards others who have the same problem,” he 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 stories. ‘This helps them identify with each other and realise that they’re not alone.