Crypto addiction ‘can happen to just about anyone,’ Paracelsus Recovery CEO says

Jan Gerber, CEO of Paracelsus Recovery, joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the signs of cryptography addiction, why it is becoming more common, and recovery programs.

Video transcript

FLYING AKIKO: Well, the popularity of cryptocurrencies has skyrocketed in recent years, but now a growing number of mental health professionals are comparing investing in cryptocurrencies to gambling and the risks associated with such addictions. A Swiss clinic offers a recovery program for cryptocurrency addicts at a very high price. Join me now Paracelsus Recovery CEO John Gerber. Jan, my first question is, how is crypto addiction diagnosed? What does that look like?

XAN GERBER: Hi, Akiko. Um, of course, yes, I know this, why it’s something known in advance. It’s, uh, usually when there are signs, it’s already late in the process. There may be several signs, but when people who may be addicted around the individual, they realize that, you know, some developments are going in the wrong direction.

That person can spend too much time negotiating, they can have, uh, phone apps open all the time, um, they can get up at night to check their wallet, really where they take over privacy, where it creates stress, where it affects relationships. It’s usually the first time, it’s usually not the person of interest, but the people around you say something isn’t going in the right direction.

FLYING AKIKO: It’s worth noting that, you know, you said that … you specifically addressed ultra high net worth. Here we show on the screen that your program costs $ 90,000 a week. What did you hear from the customers who came? I mean, it looks like you’ve received an increase in calls from the ultra-rich, who, for one reason or another, feel like there’s a problem here with investing in cryptocurrencies.

XAN GERBER: And frankly, pure cryptocurrency trading, um, is an addiction to it that can happen to almost anyone. It can happen to anyone who deals with the last $ 100 of their savings. It can happen to billionaires. I think the problem was tangible to the addiction treatment industry, or visible, with … the rich population.

A few years ago, when we received the first calls, specifically from people who lost millions and millions in the ups and downs of the crypto market, and then realized, especially after the losses, that this can not continue like this, and then ask for help. Meanwhile, there are rehabs around the world for all price segments, ehm, to help people who, uh– who got hooked.

FLYING AKIKO: To what extent do you think this addiction, if you want to call it that, is being fueled by some of these applications? Whether it’s Robin Hood, Coinbase, I mean, we’ve heard about concerns about gamification of trade with those apps. Does guilt point in that direction somehow?

XAN GERBER: In a sense, yes. I think the problem has many layers, but at the core of cryptocurrencies is the great volatility and, to be honest, the unpredictability of developments. Really, you can compare it from your psychological perspective to online gambling. So investing in crypto, and then making an unexpected profit, even if it’s small, creates a dopamine discharge in the brain. And dopamine as a neurotransmitter that tells our brain to repeat a certain action. This goes back to the days when … when you find a sweet berry, or you … run away from a cyber … cyber tooth … Know Tooth Tiger.

That basic functionality of instinct in our brain begins when we exchange cryptography, and cryptography is especially dangerous compared to other negotiable things. Other markets closed. Other markets are not so, um, so volatile, and are somewhat more predictable. And then, as you mentioned, those apps that make it accessible to everyone, most of those apps aren’t meant for professional investors.

They are basically intended for an application provider to make money, to get the margins. We also know that many of these applications are contractual differences. They are not really the real underlying that is being traded. And these are gamified, as you say, so they bring additional clues, you know? Prices, you know, can go up in the next 10 minutes. Now is your chance to trade. You get these notifications all the time, and that comes to the brain, um, in a very specific way. So yeah, that creates an extra layer of an already risky business.

FLYING AKIKO: Finally, Jan, I’m curious about how much $ 90,000 a week is, what that program is like. I mean, sure these people lost a lot of money, but they can still pay $ 90,000 a week. How does that recovery program look and is it different from other money-making addictions, whether it’s gambling or stock trading?

XAN GERBER: Um, the approach is very similar to a gambling addiction treatment, frankly. We have to differentiate a little bit between, you know, someone comes to us … I’m a professional trader, so do they have to come back? Are they making a living from that occupation, or can they really take a break or quit this activity altogether? And that makes a big difference. It’s like, you know, someone who depends on alcohol. Ideally, if you can stop drinking for the rest of your life, you’ll have a slightly easier headache than if, if you had to, you wanted to go back to it, and that’s the same with trade.

What we do primarily is look at the underlying reasons. Some people are more prone to addictions because they have suffered a childhood trauma or are going through a very stressful period in life. Sometimes it can be physical pain. It may be that the neurotransmitters in our brain and body are turned off. We have sleep problems.

Often, these compulsive behaviors, which include the cryptocurrency trade, which create these dopamine or serotonin attacks, are used to medicate pain or distract us from life’s problems, so not everyone who … knows, at risk of addiction , so we mainly analyze these underlying reasons. We try them out, and then we look at, you know, what healthy patterns can be to interact with … the crypto market. It doesn’t mean you can never go back to trading, but you should be equipped with some tools to do it in a healthy way.

FLYING AKIKO: Yeah Al that sounds pretty crap to me, Looks like BT aint for me either. Paracelsus Recovery CEO Jan Gerber is grateful for today’s weather. Thank you so much for joining us today.

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