When Bitcoin.org’s Cobra equated Bitcoin BCH and BSV with heroin and fentanyl use, he (maybe unwittingly) touched on the dark side of cryptocurrency: addiction.
In February 2019, Cobra posted a tweet where he likened Bitcoin Cash to using heroin, where prolonged use will trigger dependence.
“Those low fees and quick confirmations feel like magic and you experience amazing highs,” he wrote. “Then someone introduces you to Bitcoin SV, which is akin to Fentanyl, and you die,” Cobra added.
Of course, the conflict between BCH and BSV is well-documented, and the long-term repercussion of the split that started in November of 2018 has yet to be determined. The brief war to control the route resulted in millions in losses on both sides.
For now, the two Bitcoins have called for an uneasy truce and followers are waiting with bated breath to see whether it will hold up.
Although Cobra seemed to be facetious when he made that tweet, the way he phrased his statement was interesting. Is he taking the side of Bitcoin Cash? It should be noted that fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and is responsible for more than half of all fatal opioid overdoses. You can read up on the effects of fentanyl here.
The question is: was he aware of this fact? He did say that Bitcoin SV may kill (figuratively) you as opposed to developing an addiction with BCH. But Cobra hated BCH and once made the declaration that it’s dead. He even had a well-publicized spat with BCH advocate Roger Ver.
For those who don’t know, Cobra is an influential voice in the crypto world. He founded two authoritative sites—Bitcoin.org and Bitcointalk.org—so what he says holds sway.
However, this is a good segue to confronting that ugly twin.
Cryptocurrency and Behavioral Addiction
There are at least two kinds of addiction: developing tolerance to a chemical substance (whether drugs or alcohol) and being unable to stop using a chemical substance.
There are many examples of behavioral addiction such as gambling, sex, gaming, shopping, food, the Internet, and even plastic surgery. Without seeking help, their behaviors will only degenerate up to a point where the consequences are irreversible.
In fact, the effects are similar to substance addiction, including:
- Chronic patterns
- Inability to stop
- Increased tolerance
- Withdrawal symptoms
How do you know if you need to scale down your crypto activities? Here are 15 questions that will help determine if you need help:
- Do you feel any guilt or remorse with your investments in cryptocurrency?
- Are you spending more than what you can afford on your crypto investments?
- Do you constantly have the feeling that you are missing out so must need to act?
- Do you suffer from sleeping or eating problems, and any other health-related issues?
- Are you deep in debt because of your need to borrow for your crypto investments?
- Do you have problems with your marriage and relationships?
- Are you constantly checking your phone or PC for prices even when you don’t need to?
- Do you invest money on a slim chance of recouping your losses?
- Do other people call out your investment habits?
- Are you bored with everyday conversations, except when the topic is cryptocurrency?
- Do your cryptocurrency activities negatively affect your work performance?
- Do you feel the need to invest a larger amount because spending the same no longer gives you the same satisfaction?
- Have you tried to stop but go back to trading because of some excuse or the other?
- Do you invest when you feel stressed or anxious?
- Do you lie to your loved ones and friends when asked about how much you have invested in cryptocurrency?
Blockchain and the Opioid Crisis
The anonymous nature of blockchain and the fact that it’s encrypted makes it an alluring technology to be exploited for illegal transactions.
In fact, there’s a new generation of opioid dealers out there who insist on using Bitcoin as the currency for the exchange. You can actually buy illicit opioids online and pay using the digital coin. The opioids can then be delivered to a mailbox or even your home. This makes it difficult for the authorities to sniff them out.
Using Bitcoin, the drug dealers no longer place a cap on the number of opioids that you can order.
Also, these dealers are making a killing.
Just this past March, for instance, a Gambrills, MD resident was sentenced to four years in prison for distributing fentanyl. He then admitted that he purchased $10,000 worth of the pills using Bitcoin.
In April 2018, the law in Utah finally caught up to Aaron Shamo, a multimillion-dollar illegal opioid dealer who appeared to be a legitimate crypto investor. His personal stock had ballooned from $700,000 to more than $10 million in just 12 months.
Before 2013, the Silk Road was the main repository of everything illegal as people can purchase just about anything there: drugs, sex, forged documents, smut, child pornography, malware, or even contracts for murder. The main currency of choice was Bitcoin.
However, the success of the Silk Road only paved the way for others to follow. AlphaBay was another site similar to the Silk Road that was shut down in 2017.
The Silk Road and AlphaBay are just the tips of the iceberg. There are other sites out there that haven’t gotten the attention of the authorities.
Blockchain and Addiction Treatment
On the flip side, while blockchain can be exploited for illegal transactions, the technology can also be harnessed for good.
Now, a lot of research is being done on how to use blockchain for the treatment of opioid addiction. Unfortunately, the cryptocurrency has been blamed for contributing to the worsening opioid crisis in America.
Some companies are not taking that accusation lightly. In September last year, the IBM and Intel partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to find ways to stem the opioid crisis. with a “blockchain-enabled health surveillance system”. This would potentially make it easier to monitor doctors’ opioid prescriptions and hospital data on opioid-related treatments.
These innovations are still in their infancy but they do prove one thing: the Bitcoin and blockchain industries can do more rather than just complaining about being made a scapegoat in the opioid crisis.