Bitcoin is the 'gateway drug' to cryptomania, and analyst Nick Colas sees no end in sight

Wall Street's first analyst to cover bitcoin never thought it would reach such a fever pitch.

"It is clear that all of the enthusiasm around bitcoin earlier in the year has now morphed into a general craze, if you will, for all things crypto," Nick Colas said Wednesday on CNBC's "Trading Nation." "I think of bitcoin as kind of the gateway drug."

The DataTrek Research co-founder has also been referring to the mania as the "Wild West."

It has been a heck of a breakout year.

Bitcoin has surged nearly 2,000 percent during the past 12 months and is trading above $16,000. The cryptocurrency's value has been constantly fluctuating as it battles volatility.

Smaller competitors litecoin and etherium are going for around $300 and $786, respectively.

Colas doesn't see any shortcuts around the hefty price to pay for the cryptocurrencies.

According to Colas, investors who are looking for a cheaper way to play them by targeting micro- and small-cap stocks tied to the mania could get hit hard.

"People have seen cryptocurrencies, as you said, go 100 percent up in a matter of weeks. And, they think stocks could do the same thing. But it is very different," he said. "The stocks have to have an underlying business principle today. The cryptos are going to give us a lot more in terms of a future runway. So, they're not the same thing at all."

In the meantime, Colas is holding onto his cryptocurrency holdings — disclosing that he owns everything Coinbase allows people own. He got in before the meteoric rise.

"It does feel like we have more room to go," Colas said. "I think we'll still bring new money in, but there will be a lot more rotation, just like we have in the stock market."

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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET). In addition, he contributes to CNBC and CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

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