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Interview with Dr. Jeremiah Weinstock, Saint Louis University

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Interview with Dr. Jeremiah Weinstock, Saint Louis University

This Q&A is the full interview with Dr. Jeremiah Weinstock. For our deep dive into cryptocurrency trading addiction, with input from the entire expert panel, please see this article.

Below is an interview with Dr Jeremiah Weinstock, a professor in the Department of Psychology at Saint Louis University, focuses on addictive behaviors with a focus on gambling disorders and exercise as an intervention. This is the full transcript of our interview, quotes from which were published in our main article on the subject here.

For a deep dive into the subject of cryptocurrency trading addiction and its links to gambling, please follow this link. As for Dr. Weinstock’s full interview, please see below.

CoinJournal (CJ): Do you think there are any similarities between crypto trading addiction and gambling addiction? If so, could you name the most notable?

Although crypto trading addiction is not an official diagnosis in our classification of psychiatric disorders, people who engage in crypto trading may struggle and suffer negative consequences from their trading behavior.

The hallmarks of gambling disorder and other addictions are (1) loss of control, meaning an individual tries to stop or reduce their gambling behavior and is unable to do so, (2) tolerance , the need to engage in the behavior at a greater intensity to achieve the desired effect, and (3) withdrawal, irritability, and mood swings when trying to quit or cut down.

If people who engage in crypto trading experience one or more of these hallmark symptoms, they are potentially addicted to crypto trading. Thrill-seeking traders who trade frequently (i.e. without a buy-and-hold investment strategy) run an increased risk that this behavior will become maladaptive.

CJ: What do you think makes activities like trading so addictive?

Uncertainty and volatility in the crypto markets. An “opportunity” to make money in a short time exists in these markets. People who experience a big win early on are more likely for crypto trading to become addictive.

CJ: What do you think of influencers who, in exchange for founder compensation, promote obscure cryptocurrencies to their followers without knowing how it works? Do you think this is a problem?

I don’t think influencers are problematic because the general public generally understands that they are trying to monetize the topics they highlight or promote. Disclosure of their financial relationship with these companies would increase transparency.

Their promotion of these currencies increases the perceived availability. Availability is a necessary component of the development of an addictive disorder.

CJ: In your opinion, would the daily volatility of crypto prices have an impact on mental health, since people see their investments rise and fall so widely every day?

Yes, volatility contributes to mental health issues because people’s money goes up and down daily. When individuals tie their crypto investment to their identity, it affects self-esteem and contributes to depression and anxiety. For some people, the volatility will be exciting and they will seek the thrill of trying to “time” the market.

CJ: Research on crypto trading addiction is still limited, do you think the need for this is likely to grow in the future?

There is limited research on crypto trading to date, and much of it investigates whether crypto trading should be included in gambling disorder because the behavior itself meets the definition of gambling – putting something of value at risk when the outcome is unknown with the hope of gaining something of greater value.

There is a need for research in this area. Attention to this area depends on both the market and whether there is consolidation/regulation, whether the negative consequences of crypto trading make headlines, and ultimately the existence of funding (ie money) for this area.

Currently, crypto trading is not a funded topic by the National Institutes of Health, America’s largest source of research funding.

CJ: Do you think the cryptocurrency industry should do more to promote safe investing and address the problem of addiction?

The cryptocurrency industry should follow the lead of the NYSE and other stock markets in promoting the idea that money in the market is an investment, not a get-rich-quick scheme. There are no regulations around gambling in the stock markets.

CJ: Conventional gaming is limited in many territories to consumers 18 and older. Do you think there should be a similar rule in cryptocurrency, to protect younger, more impressionable minds from possible addiction?

This is a complicated question that requires nuances. Adolescence is a developmental period characterized by risk-taking. Early exposure to addictive behavior increases the risk that the behavior will become problematic. For example, people who drink their first drink of alcohol before the age of 13 have a significantly increased risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.

How do teens get access to cryptocurrencies? Parental oversight and supervision are extremely important if cryptocurrency is to be available to teens. However, does the NYSE have age limits for investing in publicly traded companies?

These two questions reveal the shades of gray needed to answer this question.

CJ: If I can push you to answer yes or no, do you think the world would be a happier place without gaming?

Gambling has been a human endeavor since the dawn of time!

Dice were found in the tomb of the Pharaoh. The ancient Hindu text, the Mahabharata, contains a story of gambling addiction with a later verse discouraging gambling. For better or worse, it’s in our DNA. We are social beings who take risks.

Gambling is an expression of our risk taking. I hope the industry will take the prevention of gambling disorders seriously and identify when a person’s behavior becomes problematic.

CJ: What advice can you give to people interested in crypto trading, who may be predisposed to gambling-related addictions?

A few years ago, we did a study comparing professional gamers to people with a gaming disorder (Weinstock, Massura, & Petry, 2013). These were two groups of people who gambled regularly but had very different outcomes in terms of financial and mental health consequences.

Both groups endorsed the concern for gambling; however, the big difference between the two groups was discipline with their money versus losing control/chasing losses. Professional gamblers had a bankroll they played with. Every day, professional gamblers only risked 5% of their bankroll.

Once they hit that loss limit, they’re done for the day. They wouldn’t play anymore. This prevented them from pursuing their losses. People with gambling disorders were unable to set boundaries and stick to them. This idea of ​​setting boundaries and sticking to them would be the biggest and most important piece of advice.

And if you find you can’t stick to your limits, ask yourself if that’s a sign that your trading is getting out of hand!

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