As cryptocurrency continues to gain mainstream adoption and attraction, more and more retail investors are taking part in investing and/or trading cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum and other alt-coins. While most cryptocurrency traders invest responsibly and without severe incident beyond financial loss, others have fallen prey to having a problematic relationship with cryptocurrency and may have ultimately developed a pathological addiction to trading the highly speculative and volatile asset class. Moderating or stopping a cryptocurrency addiction can be extremely challenging, but with proper support and guidance all individuals are able to recover and live a thriving and fulfilling life.
What Is A Cryptocurrency Addiction?
Cryptocurrency addiction involves the persistent or recurrent pathological compulsion and obsession to engage in the behavior of investing in and/or trading cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, or other alt-coins despite negative consequences to personal and/or professional activities such as financial loss, disruption to relationships, career problems, mental health issues, and other such negative consequences.
Investing in and/or trading cryptocurrency as well as crypto-related behaviors such as chart analysis, price checking, macroeconomic research, and other such analytical or speculative measures become the primary activity of daily life, and the individual feels an uncontrollable urge to continue trading and engaging in such crypto-related activities despite adverse effects.
Cryptocurrency addiction falls on a spectrum of mild problematic trading to severe pathological addiction. Any crypto trading that causes harm, distress, and negative life issues could signify a problematic relationship with cryptocurrency trading. Whether crypto is a slight problem or a pervasive addiction, your relationship with investing and trading is something you should take a closer look at. Some may also benefit from receiving professional help from a cryptocurrency addiction specialist, especially those who are unable to moderate or stop their trading on their own.
There are many different pathways to recovering from an issue with trading, and whether you’re working with a professional or doing it all on your own there are several strategies you can implement that may help you along the way.
10 Strategies To Stop A Crypto Addiction
Many individuals fail to acknowledge or lack awareness that they have a problem trading cryptocurrency. As such, it is important to take an honest look at your life and see how your relationship with cryptocurrency may be impacting your finances, career, relationships, energy, mental health, physical health, sleep, and other such important areas of your life, directly or indirectly.
Some signs that you have a problematic relationship with cryptocurrency include but is not limited to:
Many habits and behaviors are buried in the subconscious mind. In this way, many cryptocurrency traders operate on auto-pilot, constantly checking on price action or an open trade on a nearby digital device without thinking twice. In order to change such programmed behaviors self-reflection is important in order to better understand how one thinks, feels and ultimately behaves.
Reflection involves the examination of your own thoughts and feelings, in this case as they pertain to your relationship with cryptocurrency, as well as your current state of wellbeing and overall quality of life. How much time am I spending on crypto? How is crypto impacting my relationships? My mental health? My physical health? My sleep? Etc.
This introspective exercise will allow you to have a better understanding of how cryptocurrency trading is impacting your life in order to facilitate increased intrinsic motivation to stop trading. Reflection can also involve thoughts of how your life may improve if you stop trading, or how you’d like your life to be. Appreciate the benefits of not trading, and envision the person you’d like to become.
Once you have identified problematic aspects of your life as well as the life you’d like to attain, begin to make small incremental changes in your behaviors that will lead you in the direction of where you’d like to be.
Deleting all trading platforms and trading-related stimuli from your phone, computer, and other digital devices is imperative. This includes not only deleting crypto exchanges you use to buy and sell crypto, but also getting rid of sources of crypto-related materials that may trigger you such as financial news platforms or crypto Twitter.
It is also important to close all crypto accounts, be it exchanges or digital asset lenders that you have used in the past. If you keep an account active, even without any assets on it, it may be a sign that you have reservations to get back into crypto in the future. If you are unwilling to sell crypto that you hold, and plan to hold it long-term, it may be beneficial to allow a loved one who knows about your trading problem and related goals to hold onto your crypto wallet or secure it in a bank deposit box that requires dual authorization.
Overseeing finances and assets, or even removing them from the traders control temporarily, can help the individual be accountable and focused on their recovery. This can be done by a trusted loved one, a cryptocurrency addiction specialist, a wealth manager or other such financial advisor who is knowledgeable about behavioral finance and aware of the individual’s trading problems. In some cases trusts may need to be established if deemed to be necessary and appropriate.
Any financial problems should not be addressed until one is stable in their recovery unless the issue is an emergency that needs to be resolved immediately, or may otherwise benefit the individuals recovery process. This is because financial stress can trigger a relapse and impede on effective cryptocurrency treatment outcomes. Furthermore, financial issues present unique challenges to cryptocurrency addicted individuals that traditional money management tools utilized by financial professionals may fail to address or may be counterproductive.
A trigger is a stimulus that elicits a reaction. Triggers are social, psychological and emotional situations and events that lead an addicted individual towards trading. While many triggers are obvious and conscious, they may also be disguised or subconscious making them difficult to detect.
We are constantly inundated with triggers that evoke certain thoughts and feelings that ultimately guide our behavior. Triggers are key elements that guide the craving response among individuals addicted to cryptocurrency. It is imperative to identify triggers so that you can attempt to avoid them and be best prepared to work through them when they arise.
Triggers can be external or internal. External triggers include environmental events or situations such as financial troubles, exposure to a large sum of money, stressful events or situations, socializing with others who trade, social isolation, market capitulation or volatility, or exposure to things that remind you of trading such as crypto-related news or macroeconomic news.
Internal triggers are thoughts and feelings that evoke a craving to trade. This may include distressing emotions such as depression or anxiety, uncomfortable emotions such as shame or low self-esteem, positive euphoric or manic emotions, boredom, or an overconfidence in your recovery or trading ability.
Relapse prevention is really all about developing appropriate coping mechanisms in order to prevent a relapse back to irresponsible or pathological crypto trading. Coping mechanisms are skills that we all have to better manage negative experiences, thoughts and feelings, and can subsequently help us towards managing our behaviors to be more aligned with our goals.
Coping skills will vary from person to person, and some coping skills may work better in certain situations than for others. When working on developing coping skills it is important to have a variety of tools to utilize for different situations, and to practice them consistently so that they become second nature when they need to be applied.
Healthy coping skills may include things such as consequential thinking, exercising, talking with a support system, spending time with family, cooking and eating a nutritious meal, journaling, keeping a gratitude list, listening to music, meditating, engaging in a hobby, doing a chore or errand, reading a book, getting out in nature, going for a walk, among hundreds of others. You will have to find what works for you, and what works for each of the various experiences you may have. Always be patient, compassionate and gentle with yourself.
Additionally, do not resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as trading, binge drinking, taking drugs, binge eating, watching porn, excessive shopping, or other such behaviors. Engaging in such unhealthy coping mechanisms may help with emotional relief in the short-term, but will usually leave you feeling worse-off in the long-term, and can lead to a spiral of unhealthy behaviors.
When you stop trading crypto but continue to live a similar lifestyle with similar habits and routines, it will be much more challenging to maintain abstinence from trading. Furthermore, the brain of an individual who was formerly addicted to trading crypto has become accustomed to receiving excitement and pleasure from trading, or even thinking about trading. As such, individuals who stop trading will need to find new healthier ways to stimulate their brain and make their life pleasurable and exciting.
Exercise is one of the best natural ways to boost mood, improve energy levels, enhance wellbeing, and cope with stress and other mental health issues. You don’t have to always go to the gym to do cardio or lift weights; you can also find fun alternatives such as dancing, swimming, hiking, or sports.
You will also need to find new hobbies and leisure activities to fill up time that was formerly spent on trading and trading-related activities. Many individuals benefit from establishing a daily schedule, including things such as having a regular sleep and wake cycle, regular nutritious meals, and incorporating other healthy and mindful behaviors as part of your daily life.
Living in the past is like carrying a heavy burden that leaves you feeling stuck and unable to move forward. When it comes to the significant financial losses that crypto trading can bring, it is easy to dwell on past poor trades and financial downfalls. This is especially true of cryptocurrency traders who tend to be more emotionally attached to losses than to profits, even when they are of the same value; a phenomenon known as loss aversion. Not to mention dwelling on other problematic life issues that have been caused or exacerbated by crypto trading.
Letting go of such thoughts is much easier said than done. However, as challenging as it may be, it is possible to stop ruminating on the past, accept it, and move forward. Eckhart Tolle once said, “There is a fine balance between honoring the past and losing yourself in it. You can acknowledge and learn from the mistakes you made and then move on. It’s called forgiving yourself.”
Learning to accept the past and forgive yourself may be easier for some than others. For some it may be their life’s work, and for others it may be a daily process. As easy as it may be to ruminate on mistakes we have made and blame ourselves for our past, it’s important to remind ourselves that we are imperfect humans, and now that we know better we can do better. Instead of letting your past define you, work towards creating a new story about who are and who you are becoming.
Fighting a pathological crypto problem alone can be very challenging. Shame, guilt, embarrassment, regret and other such negative emotions associated with a crypto addiction will keep you isolated from others and exacerbate current difficulties you may be experiencing. The best way to recover is to get help from those who care about you. Leaning on support from loved ones will also help keep you accountable.
You may benefit from building a support system from those who have had trading issues themselves and are now in recovery. Such individuals can support you by giving you hope, suggestions, support and guidance in times of need. You can start building a support network with such individuals by attending mutual help groups like Gamblers Anonymous or SMART Recovery, or online forums related to cryptocurrency addiction. Such mutual help groups and platforms are an excellent source of support, but they are not a substitute for professional help.
Many individuals who have a problematic relationship with cryptocurrency trading will not seek out professional help from a cryptocurrency addiction specialist, and not all have to. However, if you have had failed attempts at moderating or stopping your trading on your own you may benefit from working with a mental health professional who specializes in cryptocurrency addiction, gambling disorders, behavioral finance, and related issues.
Working with a cryptocurrency addiction specialist can help you understand the patterns that trigger your pathological trading behaviors, work with you to identify unhealthy or irrational beliefs you may have that contribute to your behaviors around cryptocurrency, address underlying issues such as mental health or trauma, and teach you ways to replace trading activity with healthy behaviors.
Cryptocurrency addiction specialists may include but are not limited to therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, and recovery coaches that specialize in cryptocurrency addiction or gambling disorders.
To find a cryptocurrency addiction specialist near you contact the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700. If your mental health issues are pervasive and persistent please seek out help from a mental health professional immediately, especially if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts. If you are having thoughts of self-harm and live in the United States, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.
If this article was useful to you, you may also enjoy reading:
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Beyond Mere Financial Loss – Consequences of Day Trading Can Go Well Beyond Your Wallet
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