Cryptocurrency addiction: Understanding the risks and warning signs

Zuletzt aktualisiert am 9. März 2023 von Dr. med. Andrea Weidemann

Cryptocurrencies have taken the world by storm, offering a decentralized and secure alternative to traditional forms of currency. However, with the growing popularity of cryptocurrency, addiction has become a real concern. Cryptocurrency addiction is a psychological disorder characterized by compulsive and excessive use of cryptocurrency trading and investment, resulting in significant negative consequences to an individual’s physical, social, and financial well-being.

Cryptocurrency addiction often starts insidiously. The thoughts of those affected increasingly revolve around the market and their investments. They sleep poorly, withdraw from social activities, and take reckless risks – sometimes leading to a total loss.

“Some of our patients have earned hundreds of millions with crypto – but have become addicted to this constant thrill, which has practically destroyed their private lives,” writes The Balance, a rehab center for crypto addicts in Mallorca.

Psychologists have been researching the causes and consequences of crypto addiction for about a year. According to them, the problem is spreading worldwide and is comparable to gambling addiction. Often, it affects young, educated men between the ages of 20 and 30. Some fall into a vicious cycle and gamble away their entire fortunes.

Rehab clinics such as Castle Craig in Scotland and The Balance now specialize in researching and treating the disease. Those affected can seek help there.

What is crypto addiction?

Cryptocurrency addiction is a behavioral addiction that is similar to other forms of addiction such as gambling or substance abuse. It involves an excessive and compulsive use of cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, that can lead to severe financial losses, social isolation, and other negative consequences. This addiction is not yet officially recognized as a disorder by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), but it has been studied extensively in recent years.

What causes crypto addiction?

Like other addictions, the causes of cryptocurrency addiction are complex and multifaceted. Here are some of the factors that can contribute to the development of this addiction:

  • FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out): Cryptocurrency trading is often driven by the fear of missing out on a significant gain, which can lead to irrational decision-making and compulsive behavior.
  • Thrill-seeking behavior: Many people are attracted to cryptocurrency trading because of the excitement and thrill of the volatile market. This can lead to addictive behavior as individuals chase the next big win.
  • Access and ease of use: Cryptocurrency is easily accessible and can be traded from anywhere with an internet connection. This accessibility and ease of use make it easy for people to become addicted.
  • Underlying mental health issues: Cryptocurrency addiction can be a symptom of underlying mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression.

The mechanism of action in cryptocurrency addiction is similar to that of other addictions. The pleasure and reward centers in the brain are activated by the anticipation and excitement of trading and investing in cryptocurrency. As individuals experience positive outcomes, such as gains in the value of their cryptocurrency holdings, dopamine is released in the brain, reinforcing the behavior and creating a cycle of addiction.

What are the warning signs of crypto addiction?

Here are some of the warning signs that may indicate a person is struggling with cryptocurrency addiction:

  • Constantly checking cryptocurrency prices and market updates
  • Obsessively thinking about cryptocurrency trading and investing
  • Spending large amounts of time trading or researching cryptocurrency
  • Neglecting important responsibilities and relationships to engage in cryptocurrency activities
  • Continuously chasing losses in the cryptocurrency market
  • Needing to increase investment amounts to achieve the same level of excitement
  • Experiencing financial distress or personal harm due to cryptocurrency use

How to treat crypto addiction?

Cryptocurrency addiction can have severe consequences and requires professional treatment. Treatment typically involves a combination of therapy, support groups, and medication. Here are some of the treatment options available for cryptocurrency addiction:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of therapy that helps individuals identify and change their negative thoughts and behaviors related to cryptocurrency use.
  • Support groups can provide a supportive community and a structured program for individuals struggling with cryptocurrency addiction.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment: In some cases, medications such as antidepressants may be used to treat underlying mental health issues that may be contributing to the addiction.


Preventing cryptocurrency addiction is key, and here are some steps that individuals can take to avoid falling into this trap:

  • Establish healthy habits: It’s essential to establish a healthy routine and engage in healthy activities to reduce the likelihood of becoming addicted.
  • Set limits on time and money: One way to prevent crypto addiction is to set limits on how much time and money you spend on trading and investing in cryptocurrencies. It is essential to create a budget and stick to it, only investing what you can afford to lose. Additionally, it is important to set aside specific times to check cryptocurrency prices and news to avoid obsessing over them throughout the day.
  • Diversify your investments: Investing in only one cryptocurrency or asset can increase the risk of addiction, as investors may obsess over the market performance of that one asset. Diversifying investments across multiple cryptocurrencies and assets can help reduce this risk and provide a broader perspective on the market.
  • Seek support: It is crucial to seek support from friends, family, or a therapist if you feel that you may be developing an addiction to cryptocurrencies. Joining online or local support groups can also provide a sense of community and help in dealing with addiction.
  • Take breaks: It is important to take breaks from trading and investing in cryptocurrencies to avoid burnout and addiction. Engaging in other hobbies or activities can help redirect attention away from the market and provide a sense of balance and perspective