“What is your Opinion of Bitcoin?”
I read this question last week. Potential answers immediately flooded my brain. I started to answer: “Bitcoin reminds me of heroin.” The answer startled me. I stopped before I finished the thought. I needed more time to think about it before I made such a statement.
I’ve spent the last few weeks thinking slowly and deeply about how I feel about Bitcoin and other Crypto-Currencies. Should I take the risk to incorporate them into my investment strategy? Can they make my financial portfolio stronger, and more diverse? Should I chase the frenzy? Am I going to miss out on a huge opportunity if I don’t invest some money into them?
Like many people, I felt a little lost at first. The concept of crypto-currency was so new to me. But slowly, as I read and learned more, my mysterious feelings around Bitcoin began to settle. Suddenly one night last week, a revelation flashed in my brain. I actually whispered the below sentence to myself one night before falling asleep.
“Bitcoin reminds me of heroin.” I said to myself. “I’ve been high on Heroin many years ago. Bitcoin reminds me of that same high.”
The thought was powerful. I immediately picked up my computer in the middle of the night and I began to write the first draft for this post. I hope you can learn from my failures in life. This is what I wrote:
“Bitcoin reminds me of Heroin.” This is the first time I’ve put a concrete decision to my feelings about Bitcoin and all these other wildly-volatile crypto-currencies. Why do I think Bitcoin and Heroin are similar? This is why:
I feel like Bitcoin and Heroin are both INCREDIBLY powerful substances that can cause crazy reactions and changes of perception inside the human brain. They can both create insane highs. But they also have a little bit of deceitful nature when you use them. How are they deceitful? They both have the opportunity to create nightmarish lows once their awesome highs eventually wear off.
I feel like Bitcoin is similar to heroin in this way: It’s not the incredible highs you have to worry about. Most highs are fun, exciting, and liberating. Highs are never the problem. It’s the crazy lows and downfall you have to worry about. That is the experience that scares me the most about Bitcoin and hard drugs. Once the high ends, what’s going to happen next?
I was a 21-year-old college student the first time I tried heroin. That moment was more than 15 years ago now. I had a friend who always had connections to weird, underground party drugs. One day, he said, “I have a connection for a new drug called fentanyl. Do you want to try it?”
He said we just had to snort a little bit of the powder. We thought we were being smart because we’d never use needles and we were only using prescription drugs. We didn’t know it at the time, but that tiny little bit of powder, turned out to be pure heroin.
The first time I tried this drug, I realized how insanely powerful this substance was. Early Bitcoin investors probably had a similar feeling as Bitcoin’s value boomed and people made thousands, and millions, of dollars almost overnight.
It took about 15 minutes for the drug to kick in the first time I took it. Then, I became incredibly disorientated and suddenly had trouble moving. The drug swept my vision into an alternative reality that I’d never seen or imagined before. It was like I was floating in a world where dreams appeared and disappeared, and I was diving in and out of these alternate realities like I was floating in a distant magical ocean. I didn’t know exactly where I was, but I liked being there.
I bet there are some early investors of Bitcoin who became very rich because of the explosive power of Bitcoin. I bet they are feeling a very similar high right now. These early investors were probably introduced to Bitcoin similarly to the way I was first introduced to heroin. A unique friend with underground connections, probably said, “Hey check out this new substance called, Bitcoin.” And so they decided to try a little bit, and as that little bit exploded in value ⸺ exponentially increasing their net-worth and financial powers ⸺ that little bit probably started getting them very high.
It probably blew their entire financial life into a euphoric high, where suddenly they thought anything was possible with all the new beautiful money they now owned. I’m sure they hoped this high would never end and the feeling would go on, and on, and on into infinity. I bet that high was pretty awesome too ⸺ to become that rich in such a short period of time.
There’s also a risk of Bitcoin re-wiring your brain the way heroin does. As the addiction to heroin gets stronger, your ability to plan for long-term success disintegrates. You stop caring about what your life will look like in 5, or 15 years, and you become obsessed with the short term: You just want to get your next high now. Bitcoin creates a similar attraction and obsession, and de-evolution of long-term thinking and proper risk-assessment: You don’t want your money to double in 9 years. You want it to double NOW!
But for me, this is where the similarities between Bitcoin and Heroin end. Because I don’t know how the incredibly highs of Bitcoin will end. But I do know how the euphoric highs of heroin end.
When the high of heroin is over, and you run out of more drugs to take you back up again. Slowly, the euphoric dreams that were so amazing to float through begin to disappear. And nightmares full of addiction and sickness take their place. The only way to escape the nightmare, is to find more drugs to shoot you back into the dream world again. Your life becomes a viscous cycle of nightmares, false-realities, addiction, and dependence on a substance that provides a feeling that isn’t even real.
Slowly, or quickly, depending on your addictive behavior, you begin to lose everything you had to the drugs you use. Your integrity goes first, as you lose the ability to say no. Your financial health begins to go second, because you always have to come up with more money to buy more highs.
As you lose more money, and do more drugs, your health starts to go third. Eventually you lose yourself, as you begin to trade all the great and amazing parts of yourself – your honesty, talent, and rationality ⸺ for more opportunities to get high.
Heroin, the substance that was so magically powerful when you first started using it, ends up stealing everything from you. You eventually find out that what you thought was an amazingly powerful substance in the beginning, is really a false power, because it ends up bringing nothing good to you in the end.
Will bitcoin’s eventual ending be as terrible as this? I don’t know. If it’s price does crash, I’m sure some will escape before the full devastating consequences kick in. But for others, I’m sure they will get caught in the nightmare of losing everything they worked so hard for as they chase the next wave of excitement that will get them high again.
I’m 37 years old now. It’s been more than 15 years since I’ve been high on drugs. My 37 years of life has taught me many things. One of the things I’ve learned is that when incredibly powerful highs come around, be very weary of them, because sure the highs can make you feel awesome. But when you’re dealing with extremely volatile highs from substances like Bitcoin and Heroin, what goes up, will come down. What once felt incredibly powerful and euphoric at first, may become nothing more than a nightmare in the end.
In some ways, I wonder if Bitcoin’s amazing highs will lead to similar nightmares for the investors who don’t escape early enough. I hope the crash never comes. For those who are amazingly high on it right now, I do hope you’ll remain floating in the unbelievable glow of 10,000% return-on-investment forever. I hope the money you make will solve every problem you experience for the rest of your life.
But in my 37 years of life, I’ve learned that it’s extremely rare and difficult to remain perfectly high forever. All highs originating from extremely volatile substances eventually fade, and often produce a few insane lows along the way. Everything eventually changes. Great empires that rise during a single day, can also crumble overnight. Drunken, intoxicated, gleeful dance sessions, can also turn into wicked hangovers where you lie in bed immobile and sick and swear that you will never do that again.
I’m just telling this story to let people know to be weary when playing with such volatile and unknown substances. Your feelings can trick you. They can hurt you. I’ve been burned in the past by making the wrong decisions, and I’ve learned from those experiences not to believe in everything that makes you feel great.
I don’t even see the good, or fun times, of drug use now. I just see the illusionary deceitfulness of being high. False highs are a lie. They shouldn’t be trusted. Because easy highs are often a gateway that will lead you straight down into a black hole of hell. Maybe Bitcoin will be different? I don’t know. I’ve just been hurt by such volatile highs before, I never want to take similar risks again.
I’m just saying, that Bitcoin and Heroin, remind me of each other. Not that they are each other. That’s all.
If you’re wondering if you should invest in Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies, that’s your call. I’d just never put more than 10% of my net-worth into it, and I’d only do it if I was Ok with losing all of it tomorrow.
I’m all about taking risks and chances. Risks and chances are what lead to the greatest highs in life. I’ve just learned that not all risks are worth my time, money, and life. At this time, Bitcoin reminds me too much of the hard drugs I used to do to feel good about owning it. For those who do own it, and are holding it, I hope I am wrong, and I hope it will bring you new highs forever. Peace.
If you’re into reading about Bitcoin, here are three good articles I’ve read on it: