How To Support a Loved One With a Cryptocurrency Addiction

Cryptocurrency addiction is often thought of as a personal problem, but it can also cause significant distress to those around them.  Cryptocurrency addictions can have a severe impact on family, friends, colleagues and others in a variety of ways.  As such, addiction is often called a family disease by those in the addiction field.


When a loved one is facing a problem with crypto trading, it is invaluable that the family heal together in order to improve the health and wellbeing of the family unit as well as each independent individual.  While loved ones should prioritize their own self-care and wellbeing, it is also important to learn how to support a loved one struggling with a cryptocurrency addiction.

What is Cryptocurrency Addiction?

A cryptocurrency addiction is a pathological obsession and compulsion to buy and/or sell cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other alternative coins, and may also involve a preoccupation with staying updated on changes in price by constantly observing charts, reading crypto news, and engaging in other means of informing oneself of potential price action. 

Cryptocurrency addictions can significantly impact one’s mental health, causing euphoric highs when an individual increases their portfolio and devastating lows when an individual is at a loss.  As such, even if an individual is a cryptocurrency long-term investor and not a cryptocurrency day trader one may still experience a negative impact on their mood and may still obsessively engage in obsessive and compulsive non-related trading activities.

Since the inception of Bitcoin in 2009, and even more recently with alternative cryptocurrency exposure, there is very little research available in the field of cryptocurrency addiction and the market’s impact on mental health.  However, addiction professionals have viewed cryptocurrency addictions as akin to a day trading addiction which is viewed as a subset of gambling addiction.

Gambling addictions have the highest rates of suicide among all addictive behaviors, and therefore a cryptocurrency addiction should not be taken lightly.  If an individual or loved one notices signs of a cryptocurrency addiction they should seek out help from an addiction professional specializing in gambling addictions immediately.  If an addicted loved one is resistant to receiving help for their cryptocurrency addiction, an intervention may be needed.

Signs of a cryptocurrency addiction include but are not limited to:

  1. Taking an increased risk with minimal strategy, or the need to make bigger wagers in order to receive satisfaction or excitement.
  2. Becoming obsessed with researching and trading cryptocurrencies or having a preoccupation or compulsion to constantly check prices.
  3. Losing interest in social/leisure activities that were once pleasurable at the expense of engaging in trading.
  4. Trading for an adrenaline rush or to induce pleasure.
  5. Having made unsuccessful attempts at reducing the time spent on trading and trading related activities, or having made unsuccessful attempts from taking a break or abstaining from trading related activities.
  6. Trading compulsively or experiencing strong urges and cravings to engage in trading related activities.
  7. Experiencing stress, anxiety, a low mood, irritability, insomnia, anger or other unwanted and unhealthy mental health symptoms when trading or when unable to trade.
  8. Having to lie or hide trading or trading related activities from loved ones.
  9. Stealing, taking loans, selling assets, or using money that should be spent on bills or necessities in order to make trades.
  10. Continuing to trade despite adverse consequences to financial stability, relationships, physical and mental wellbeing, or other important life areas.

For more information on Bitcoin Addiction, Ethereum Addiction, and other crypto addictions please read “Staring at Charts: Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Addiction.”

How Do Cryptocurrency Addictions Impact Loved Ones?

Cryptocurrency addictions impact family, friends, colleagues and other such individuals that are close to the addicted person in a variety of ways.  An addiction to Bitcoin, Ethereum and other alt coins impact loved ones in similar ways as other addictions such as drug addiction, alcohol addiction, and other such addictive disorders, as well as in other ways that might be more unique to gambling addictions.

Cryptocurrency addictions can place a significant strain on relationships, causing communication problems, low levels of engagement with one another, argumentativeness, minimal expression of feelings, splitting and other divisiveness among family members, resentment and conflict, and erosion of trust among other such issues.

Individuals facing a crypto addiction may suffer from a low mood when their investments are not doing well, or may face other mental health issues resulting from their addiction such as anxiety, irritability, agitation, mood swings, or anger among other psychological issues.  This may lead to placing further strains on relationships and can be emotionally draining on family members.

Crypto addictions can also be emotionally draining in other ways as well.  Loved ones may constantly be faced with stress, anxiety and fear surrounding their loved ones addictive behavior.  There is also evidence of increased domestic violence in homes of individuals with a gambling addiction.  Gambling addictions can often lead to separation, divorce, and issues with child custody.

Crypto addictions can also cause financial hardships for the family, and potentially lead to the addicted individual stealing from family members, selling assets, lying about finances, or taking loans in order to cover losses and invest more.

Family members are often preoccupied with trying to change the behavior of the addicted individual rather than focusing on their own self-care.  Excessive focus on the addicted loved one can lead to a variety of mental, behavioral or physical health problems such as depression, headaches, hypertension, excessive drinking, and over/under eating among many other issues.

To learn more about the impact of addiction on loved ones, please read “The Impact of Alcoholism and Addiction on Family, and How to Protect Yourself.”

How Can I Support My Loved One With a Cryptocurrency Addiction?

  1. Actively Listen

Loved ones of individuals facing a cryptocurrency addiction often face a host of negative emotions and potential resentment or animosity towards the addicted individual.  As such, they may often resort to ridiculing, demanding, yelling or engaging in other unhealthy forms of communication.  Empathy frequently goes out the window.  It is important to remember that we all need and want to be heard and listened to.  Simply listening to the addicted individual can be a meaningful form of support, as well as a way to gain deeper understanding of their issues, wants and needs.  Be sure to be interested and engaged when your loved one is sharing something with you.  Demonstrate concern and paraphrase back to them to ensure that you are understanding them and show that you are listening to them.  Even if you may not agree with them, affirm their feelings.  This technique will also model to them how to be a good listener so that they too can listen to you when you are sharing.

  1. Boundary Setting

In a family facing a cryptocurrency addiction there are always healthy boundaries that need to be built and unhealthy ones that need to be torn down. Every situation and relationship is unique, and therefore boundaries will look different in each respective case. Generally speaking, loved ones want to stop behaviors that enable a person’s cryptocurrency addiction such as supporting the addicted individual financially, lying for them to cover up their addiction, or making excuses for their negative behaviors. Loved ones want to let the addicted individual know that they love them and that they are there for them when they want to get well, but they cannot continue to see them destroy their lives and the lives of those around them.  In extreme cases some family members may need to tell their loved one that they cannot see them or speak with them until they are ready and willing to get help.

  1. Reduce Environmental Triggers

Due to the nature of cryptocurrency addiction, the addicted individual’s brain may have conscious or unconscious correlations with their addiction, even to miniscule triggers.  It can be challenging and sometimes impossible to remove all triggers from a home, but there are certain steps that can be taken to make a living environment safer.  With cryptocurrency addiction it may not be as obvious as removing alcohol from the home of an alcoholic, but there may be triggers such as financial related newspapers, trading books, or news related to trading that may serve as a trigger.  Aim to reduce screen time, even to technology that is not related to trading.  Money, credit cards and bills may serve as a reminder of financial wellbeing, so aim to limit exposure to such financial items as well until needed.  In some cases an addicted individual may need a loved one to temporarily oversee their finances.

  1. Encourage Healthy Habits

Individuals facing cryptocurrency addictions may have underlying mental health issues such as depression, anxiety or ADHD, and they may also be facing a technology addiction or other addiction that can negatively impact their mental and physical health and exacerbate issues stemming from their crypto addiction.  Living a healthy lifestyle and engaging in healthy behaviors is the best natural way to reduce unwanted mental health concerns, reduce screen time, and reduce crypto trading engagement.  Instead of demanding this of the addicted individual, one of the best ways to encourage them to engage in healthy habits is to model it yourself.  Whether it be proper sleep hygiene, minimal screen time, exercise, eating healthy meals, or abstaining from alcohol, drugs and nicotine, show your support by living a healthy lifestyle yourself.  This has many benefits beyond supporting your loved one, as this will help improve your own mental, physical and spiritual health, and can also be a source of bonding and healing between you and your loved ones.

  1. Educate Yourself

As a loved one it is not your job or responsibility to be an addiction specialist, addiction recovery coach, or addiction therapist.  However, it is helpful to have a basic understanding of addiction in order to not only be better positioned to support your loved one, but also for your own healing as well.  Having a basic understanding of cryptocurrency, such as what is Bitcoin, what is Ethereum, what are alt coins, and other such basics can help improve the relationship and be a conduit to more open dialogue between yourself and the addicted loved one.  Similarly, a basic understanding of what addiction is, the neurological impact of addiction, what triggers are, and other such issues can better position you to help yourself and your loved one.

A basic understanding of addiction may entail looking through a clinical lens of viewing addiction as a brain disease, something that the majority of addiction specialists agree upon, but not all.  According to the brain disease model, over time cryptocurrency trading can hijack the brain’s reward system, resulting in that individual relying on their crypto engagement to receive pleasure, thrill or feelings of satisfaction.  Furthermore, individuals who have developed crypto addictions may have neurally embedded associations and memories with their addictive behavior, resulting in minuscule things triggering them that may not even enter our conscious mind.  Through this view loved ones may revert from blaming a loved one for lacking willpower or believing that they are choosing their addiction over their family, and can be a driving force of fostering deeper empathy.  If interested in learning more about the brain disease model of addiction, please read “Why Is Addiction Called a “Brain Disease” by Many Addiction Professionals?

Addiction can also negatively impact the part of the brain responsible for impulse control.  As such, relapse rates across the board for all addictions are unfortunately very high.  Although there is little research on relapse rates of crypto addiction specifically, relapse rates are likely comparable to that of gambling addiction. As such, loved ones must recognize that their loved one will not be “cured” by simply getting treatment, but rather they are in a life-long journey of recovery.

The good news is that the longer an individual is able to maintain their abstinence from trading related activity, the greater chance they have of maintaining their long-term recovery.  The first year is especially crucial, and therefore it is beneficial for the addicted individual to be engaged in some form of recovery related treatment for their first year of recovery such as via a cryptocurrency addiction expert or therapist who specializes in gambling addictions, or mutual help groups such as Gamblers Anonymous or SMART Recovery.

Loved ones of an addicted individual should also acknowledge that addiction is progressive in nature, meaning that the longer an individual is engaged in their crypto addiction the worse it will get over time.  Individuals addicted to trading or investing cryptocurrencies will often invest more money over time, trade with leverage, or engage in other unhealthy trading habits.  This is because the individual may need to invest more in order to cover losses or to receive the same pleasure or rush as they did in the beginning of their engagement with cryptocurrency.  Consequences of cryptocurrency trading also often get worse over time.  As such, the sooner one is able to receive help the better off they will be.  Although more research is needed, cryptocurrency addictions can be fatal due to the high rates of suicide among individuals with a gambling addiction, and therefore receiving help should never be something that is delayed.

How Can I Work Towards My Own Healing? 

Most loved ones focus on getting the addicted individual help at the expense of their own wellbeing, but it is paramount to get your own help if you are a loved one of a person suffering from an addiction to Bitcoin, Ethereum, or other alt coins. In many cases the addicted individual may choose to continue with their downward spiral rather than choosing to get well, and in such cases it is imperative that family members and other loved ones do not get further sucked into the emotional turmoil that goes hand-in-hand with addiction.

Loved ones often experience anxiety, sadness, shame, guilt, trauma and host of other negative emotions due to their loved one’s addiction.  As such, it is critical that they begin their own healing journey so that they can learn to cope with negative emotions, learn to set healthier boundaries, and not suffer in silence.  Through seeking out professional help in private therapy, finding a support group, and engaging in self-care behaviors not only will they feel better, but they will also be modeling recovery related behaviors for the addicted individual, showing them that it is ok to get help.

One method of healing that family members can engage in to improve their wellbeing are holistic wellness behaviors such as eating well, exercising, meditating, proper sleep-hygiene, and engaging in self-care routines.  Family members should also seek out an addiction specialist who can teach stress reduction techniques, coping skills for negative emotions, boundary setting, and educate them about the nature of cryptocurrency addiction.

Seeking out mutual help groups with like-minded individuals can help loved ones establish a sense of universality so that they do not feel alone, and so that they can begin to build a support group they can confide in.  Connecting with like-minded peers who also have a deep understanding of struggling with a loved ones addiction can lend itself towards a better quality of life, reduced stress, and fewer problems with your addicted loved one.  Some such mutual help groups include Al-Anon (yes, even for gambling addiction) Gam-Anon, and SMART Recovery Family and Friends, or via family addiction groups with a local private addiction therapist or private addiction rehab. Family therapy sessions are also helpful to help heal the family.

For more information on supporting someone struggling with addiction, please read “10 Tips For How To Support Someone In Recovery From Addiction.”

For more information on New York City addiction treatment and to find the best addiction counselor in NYC, or for general therapy and mental health counseling, or to inquire about Family Addiction Specialist’s private concierge sober coach Manhattan, recovery coach Manhattan, sober companion Manhattan, Manhattan addiction therapy services and/or our Manhattan teletherapy services (online therapy/virtual therapy) for drug addiction, alcohol addiction, gambling addiction, or digital addiction and technology addiction, as well as our Manhattan hypnosis services in New York City please contact our undisclosed therapy office location in the Upper East Side of NYC today at (929) 220-2912.

Lin Sternlicht & Aaron Sternlicht

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