Addiction to Bitcoin Cryptocurrency day-trading

Castle Craig Hospital provides treatment for people addicted to day-trading, spread betting and the trading of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple & Litecoin. We treat these as forms of gambling addiction.



Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Behavioural Addiction at Nottingham Trent University, recently told Castle Craig: “Addiction to cryptocurrencies is really just a sub-type of online day-trading addiction. I see these as akin to gambling addiction.”

For and how they can be addictive more information by Dr Griffiths on cryptocurrency addiction please click here.

Some of the symptoms that cryptocurrency users should look out for (suggesting an addiction) are: feeling muscle tension and anxiety, constantly checking the prices online (even in the middle of the night) and thinking about cryptocurrency trading when doing other things.

We have published a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to help people understand these new currencies; the FAQ is a glossary of terms for anyone who wants to discuss this issue with a loved one they may be concerned about.

What is a cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies that are not backed up by a central bank like the Bank of England. They are bought and sold like shares, and traded globally. Their value also fluctuates like shares.

The first cryptocurrency was Bitcoin and, with an estimated 72% share of the market at the time of writing (April 2018), it is currently the biggest.

Celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Paris Hilton and Ashton Kutcher have helped to popularise cryptocurrencies.

For many people, they seem like an easy way to get rich. Like all forms of gambling, it can be highly addictive. To Castle Craig it looks like another form of gambling addiction.

What is day-trading?

Day-trading is the buying and selling of stocks, shares and other financial instruments within the same day. Day traders (also known as speculators) take advantage of small price moves and constantly monitor changes via the internet.

Some years ago, day trading was only done by financial companies and investment experts. But now, these types of transactions are open to anyone with an internet connection.

Another type of addictive trading is known as Spread Betting. This is when someone makes a bet on a share, currency, or other financial instrument, going up or down. The difference between with day trading is that it doesn’t involve actually buying a share (or security), but simply betting on which way the price will go.

According to Janice Dorn, one in ten day traders in the USA are addicted to it:

“Sometimes they get lucky and win. Most of the time, they lose. Often, they lose big, but keep going because they are in a vicious downward cycle, doing what is called “revenge trading” to try to recoup their losses. This is a recipe for complete disaster.”

Such activities involve constantly fluctuating prices and monitoring these, on the internet, can be compelling and exciting. Some people have made a lot of money in this way.


how many addicted users are there


How do people get addicted?

The internet allows anyone with a smartphone instant access to global markets, where prices are updated every few seconds. Watching price fluctuations can be compelling and, in some cases, addictive.

Chris Burn, a gambling therapist at Castle Craig Hospital says, “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 & losses were made. It’s a classic bubble situation.”

Recognising a cryptocurrency addiction

Not all day traders or investors in cryptocurrencies are addicted to gambling and it can be difficult to tell the difference between a passion and an addiction.

In order to help recognise an addiction to day-trading, including cryptocurrency trading, Castle Craig’ uses a questionnaire and various other resources.

We treat the addiction to to day-trading, including cryptocurrency trading as a gambling addiction. We create it alongside any alcohol or drug addiction the patient may have.

Very often another addiction such as alcohol dependence may co-exist along with gambling and it is essential that these other addictions are also treated.

Why would someone get addicted to cryptocurrency trading?

  • They consider it an escape from stress or boredom;
  • It gives temporary relief from feelings of sadness and loneliness;
  • It can feel like an escape;
  • It can replace or appear alongside other addictions (known as ‘cross-addiction‘).

The addicted cryptocurrency trader will do all or some of the following:

  • Spend all their time and money on online trading;
  • Experience financial problems;
  • Chase their losses (they spend more to recoup their losses)
  • Constantly borrow from family and friends, or steal to fund their habit;
  • Believe a big win is about to happen;
  • Pawn their belongings to raise funds;
  • Lie to friends and family about the extent of their losses;
  • Experience mood swings, depression and hopelessness;
  • Constantly think about the next investment;
  • Become restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop;
  • Deny the problem;
  • Try many times to to control, cut back or stop.

How is addiction to day-trading and cryptocurrencies treated at Castle Craig?

At Castle Craig Hospital, we treat addiction to day-trading and cryptocurrencies as a form of gambling addiction, which we have been treating for many years.

The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Version 5 (DSM-5) recognises gambling (Gambling Disorder) as a diagnosable addiction subject to certain criteria.

We use the 12 step approach, with CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and help patients to:

  • Understand their addiction
  • Recognise the consequences (and the denial)
  • Identify what they want in place of gambling
  • Build self-esteem
  • Learn assertiveness and impulse control
  • Learn to manage debts and finances.

Read more about our gambling addiction treatment programme.

Cryptocurrency FAQ

Read more about addiction to cryptocurrency trading in our detailed FAQ,

Real Life Stories

Read these real life statements of compulsive cryptocurrency traders.

Dr Mark Griffiths describes many real-life stories in this article.


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