In this enlightening conversation, Dave sits down with Christopher, a seasoned addiction therapist with over 20 years of experience in the field, who specializes in treating cannabis addiction. They explore the intricacies of addiction, delve into therapeutic approaches that work (and those that don’t), and discuss how to enhance the success rate of treatment. This is a must-listen for anyone seeking to understand addiction on a deeper level, particularly those in the healthcare profession or families grappling with the problem.
- “Addiction is not a problem of the substance but of the individual.” – Christopher
- “The success of treatment depends not just on what we do, but how we do it.” – Christopher
- “We are a role model and what defines whether you are qualified as a role model or not, is how you behave when nobody is looking.” – Christopher
- “Seeing that I have a problem is not a matter of choice or will, it’s a capacity in the brain that’s not there.” – Christopher
Dave: All right, podcast listeners, we are back for another episode, and I am excited and honored to welcome Christopher to the podcast. Welcome.
Christopher: Thank you. Thank you so much Dave, and thank you for having me. I’m excited to, uh, to talk to you and, and the audience.
Dave: Yes, indeed. I’m excited to learn more about you and about the work that you do. And to start off, would you give us a little, little preview, a little highlight as to kind of where you’re at in this world and a little bit about the work you do?
Christopher: Sure, absolutely. located in, uh, in Denmark, so that’s a, a long way from the us. It’s, kind of in the middle of Europe. And, that’s why I, go on about my living. But speaking of, the work that I do, I’m working as a counselor, a therapist. I’ve been doing that for 20 years, some 20 years now.
And on the side, so to speak, I’m educating other counselors and at this point, I don’t know, stopped counting, but, you know, plus 600 educated in, in Denmark, we work with, with cognitive therapy. we focus on cannabis, addiction. So we have this special model you could say to, to help people out of their addiction.
and then I guess a third thing I would add to the work that I do is, yeah. Talking to you, at this moment and kind of letting people who are interested know about what’s going on in, in Denmark, what’s going on in Europe, and talking to people around me here, my network, of course, what’s going on in the US because you’re kind of, in many sense the big brothers, big brother, but also when it comes to, legalization and, experiences down that road,
Dave: I’m already taking notes on different topics or questions I’d love to dive into, but it’s always fun to to hear my guest, sort of origin story, like what led you to your current role
Christopher: right? It wasn’t a, a straightforward road. Road, that’s for sure. I started, you know, working with, the finances and that was my main subject of, of study. and I had this idea that I would just, you know, change the world in, in terms of, of finances and, you know, I was, I was keen to the dream of, you know, making a lot of money and Yeah.
and by coincident, I, I took a break from my study. I needed some fresh air, some change, and it turned out to be quite a long. Break. And, uh, I needed something to do. So a friend of mine told me that there was a, a job opportunity as a, not a therapist or counselor, but you know, they needed this place needed, an adult that could have good conversations with, adolescents with young people.
And not especially on the subject of, substances or addiction, but, but just talk with an adult. And, as you say, the rest is history because I instantly fall in love with the conversation with young people being , in a, in a difficult situation at that point in life. And, it made me realize two things that I enjoyed it really well.
And, I was thrilled about talking with the, with these,young kids. And it worked really well. I was, it’s fair to say that I was, at least there was a feedback. I was pretty good at it. So, you know, I went back to my studies and, finished that and, immediately turned back to, to the job position.
And, yeah, been in it ever since.
Dave: Mm-hmm. I love it. I’m already seeing so many. So many similarities in that I love a good conversation. And I’d shared before we hit record that I was the motivational interviewing cop on a college campus because I saw the power, the impact you could have in somebody’s life with just slowing down and having a, a conversation with them.
And I’m a fan of, conversation methods and yes, oh, I love it. I’m already getting fired up and excited about our conversation we’re gonna have here today as well. before we get into some of those, those notes that I’ve already taken, what, what is going on in Europe when it comes to prevention and treatment?
Christopher: Yeah, so maybe I should, you know, just take a step back because when I started this journey, I, I really needed to understand what was going on. There was this paradox where people with substance abuse were, Getting treatment, but, you know, came out of treatment with, it took a long time and they had to, do several, treatments, but at some point they, they were clean, so to speak.
They were the addiction. They quit the addiction, but they didn’t really change their behavior in everyday life. I mean, obviously they were living another life, but in terms of functioning, in terms of thinking, reflecting, solving your day-to-day problem, there wa wasn’t really any change. And,
it kind of took me a while to figure out what was going on. And the problem was that they were still smoking cannabis. So they quit heroin or meth or whatever they were, u were using alcohol at that point. but they were still smoking cannabis. So you would see people that on the outside looked normal and maybe even had a job, maybe even were part of family. on the same time, they were really dependent on cannabis and they were not really progressing in life the way you would normally see. And they had a hard time, making decisions and. Being, so to speak, the best version of themself. So a lot of people were paying the price. You could say, family members, work colleagues, people around these, new clean, addicts.
And, to this day, not only in Denmark, but in US and all, all around the world, it’s, it’s still the problem. We don’t see cannabis as the real, as part of the problem of substance use or addiction. I mean, we are getting there, but there’s still a lot of work to do. And that’s kind of the challenge for, I mean, if you are a counselor like me, if you work with therapy and you’re trying to help people quit the addiction, You really need to have an, a deep insight on cannabis, what it’s doing short term, long term to the brain, to the way we function in daily life.
And so much so that you need to address cannabis before you address any of the other substance use. And, I know that might sound a bit controversy or, I mean, why not go right for the cocaine or the alcohol, but again, cannabis is kind of, you know, setting the pace in terms of how you function.
Obviously the other drugs do as well, but there’s something different about cannabis in the way we are able to think and solve our problem. And here’s the, the, the really, important point, our ability to. Check in with ourselves, whether we are doing a good job in solving problems or not. So that’s kind of the environment that we are operating in.
And, so if you look, broad and to, to the, to the Europe as a whole is almost a third of all drug treatment emissions in, in Europe at this point. So cannabis is the main problem drug, that is most frequently cited by new treatment clients. So we have this undervalue value, this not dangerous, drug here, but in treatment, it, it’s the main cause why people want treatment and.
On the same time, we, we, we, we lack this deeper understanding on, on what’s really going on.
And as you’ve seen, we see it in Europe as well. the availability of high potency extracts, edibles, and so on is flooding the market and it’s linked to acute toxicity. and we see it in the emergency rooms in hospitals as well.
So, it’s kind of a sad story all, all in all. But, you know, there’s kind of, you know, two horses that you can, bid on, so to speak, and, and we should do, do both, but, but prevention or treatment, and I think the way we go about treatment at this point, Denmark and Europe, maybe in us, I don’t know, but.
It’s kind of, I mean, the, the last book I, I wrote, about treatment and, and rhetoric and evidence, adverse health effects and so on. I, I kind of put all of it together and, you know, the problem is that we, we, we have a hard time understanding what is going on and, and we kind of focus a lot of treatment.
We want to, we want to, you know, kind of take control of the problem. Obviously we want to help these, people who are caught in, in addiction. but we are kind of, the way we treat, we kind of, , in the book I write about how treatment is part of the problem and that we are really not.
Preventing others from getting into addiction, because the way we talk about it and our lack of understanding, and partly, by the way, we are doing treatment. Let me give you an example. So it’s pretty normal, at least in Denmark, that counselors don’t understand what’s going on with cannabis and the brain short term, long term.
Christopher: They kind of think that this is a soft drug and you can smoke cannabis occasionally. It’s not a problem.
Christopher: So we, we kind of reproduce the problem. We kind of, you know, add to the problem by not understanding what’s going on. And I mean, I hear counselors, Saying, you know, if you could just, could you just, you know, smoke a bit less, maybe keep it to, to, to Sunday or to the weekend so you could get up in school Monday morning?
And I mean, the first thing you, you learn about cannabis and, and cognition and the way it impacts the brain is that this is, this is not, first of all, this is not your Woodstock weed, right? It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s a lot more potent and the time it takes to leave the body for a person that smokes every now and then is six week.
So this is not alcohol, this is not, you know, leaving your body and not. Influencing your way of, of doing things and making decisions, solving problem after a day or two? No, it’s six weeks. So in that respect, people are going around being intoxicated all the time, being impaired, in, in terms of cognition.
Dave: I actually just saw Dr. Jason Kilmer, who’s a friend and colleague, speak last week, and I’ve heard him say it before, but it always just really. Grabs my attention. It’s like, oh my gosh. And that he, he uses the, the research to show that many of the, the reasons self-reported reasons for cannabis use that folks are saying are also the, the symptoms of cannabis withdrawal.
And it’s just this, this cycle and, yeah. And the it. Yeah. Yes, exactly. So it’s adding to the problem, right? So it, it, it starts being some kind of, recreational use and, you know, you’re hanging out with your friends and you just want to have a good time. And all of a sudden it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s kind of a, this, a necessity in, in terms of, you know, just being able to have a reasonable, level of, of, of, of functioning
Christopher: and, and as you say,dealing with the, with, with the, effects of, of, of the drug.
Dave: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And when you were sharing a, a little bit, which I want to get into the, the model, not yet though. But, what was coming to mind for me is that when somebody comes in for treatment and they’re using cannabis on an occasional, regular basis, whatever that may be, but they’re coming into treatment for a different substance, that your approach really looks at cannabis as the, the, the one, the first domino, so to speak, that when you focus on shifting how they think about cannabis will then be that domino effect and tip over to help create momentum for the other substances as well.
That was kind of my, my. Summary, but I’m also not a treatment provider.
Christopher: That’s beautifully put. Exactly. Yeah.
Hmm. And you know, What I’ve discovered over the years teaching this model is that people are, and they should be concerned about all the hot drugs. So, and as I say, they kind of, you know, give you a free pass for smoking and it’s not really a big deal. but what we have discovered is when, as you say, when we, when we make way for the person to actually have a working mind, again,
Christopher: being able to reflect and think and solve problems the best possible way, we start seeing a ripple effect on how this rise in cognition makes them.
Able to control a cocaine addiction. I mean, what you would normally do with cocaine addiction is that you would work with triggers and strategies.
So identifying triggers, that could be obviously, specific situations in your daily life, with some people or special place. it could also be other substances, it could be alcohol, for one.
So you kind of take your time to identify these triggers and you say, so well, okay, now we know where you are. Kind of the risk situations here are where you might use cocaine. So in order to avoid that, let’s do some str strategic thinking. Let’s make some strategies that help you avoid these triggers.
And so the counselor would sit down obviously with the, with, with the patient and they would do really thorough. And I mean it make good sense, really thorough work planning strategies to avoid these triggers. And, what we see in treatment is that it’s possible to plan, a strategy. It’s possible to go out at least, most of the times go out and, you know, kind of work with the strategy and.
It might also, in some cases, be possible to come back and have a qualitative talk about, so what went on? How did it go? Were you able to use your strategy? But the last part is the most important. So now that you have used the strategy, you have some experiences, what do you see as adjustment point? What needs to be added or changed in the strategy so that you can, you know, do it even better next time?
So all of these are different types of cognitive work
Christopher: takes cognition, and that’s exactly what the cannabis addicted misses. And especially the last part about kind of reflecting on how the strategy went down and if you need to adjust something, it’s very impaired with cannabis addiction. it’s what we call the executive functions, and I mean, it’s really hard to make any change, not only in substance use, but also in life as a whole.
If you, if you lose your a, your ability to, to think and reflect and, you know, do things better from time to time.
Dave: You, you said a very important word right there that reflect and that the, the example with a cocaine addiction, I feel that that power is in that reflection at the end. Now that you’ve had some experience, but what I’m hearing is if you’re using cannabis, that’s gonna impede, that’s gonna impact your ability to, to, to really reflect on your behavior related to other substances.
Christopher: Absolutely. So if you, if you take a good look at a, a, a person who’s in a cannabis addiction, you’ll see this person repeating mistakes over and over and over again.
Christopher: And if you pointed out to them and ask them, so you keep making the same mistakes, you know what’s going on, why not, you know, change it if they.
I was just about to say they’re honest. That’s not, I mean, and, and that’s, it’s not them being not honest, but it’s the stigma of having an, an addiction that makes it hard sometimes for the addicted to say what’s, you know, really going on. but if they would give you what we see, at least clinically the, the right answer, they would say, I can’t really, I mean, I can’t even really tell you what, why, I mean, I make these mistakes, mistakes, but I don’t know why.
I can see the mistakes, but I’m not able to kind of look behind and identify why these mistakes are are happening. So, and the really sad part about that is that at some point, and I get that the person stops trying.
And that’s why you see cannabis addicted kind of withdrawal from society. They finally, you know, find a reason to quit the job, to leave the family.
because it’s very, speaking of stigma, it’s very, I mean, who would love to go go around in a world where you were constantly reminded that you couldn’t meet expectations? feeling dumb. I mean, I would stop seeing people if I was making the same mistakes over and over, because at some point, I mean, you’re looking at this person, you, you don’t know what’s going on.
At some point, people would, would, would kind of, you know, say, What’s going on with, with this person? Why is, why isn’t he changing? And so we have, we have a lot of issues with getting people packing the game, so to speak. Getting people to first of all, get cognition back. So we are kind of, you know, rebuilding cognition in treatment, but we also need them to get in into the field and start playing again, so to speak.
Dave: Right? So there’s a very, there’s a very big, cons, consequence here in when we speak,social interaction. So, as I said, we see this drawing back from, social interactions, but also as I say, a problem when they kind of, you know, want to get back into the game, want to, you know, Mm. Mm-hmm. I, I, I’m feeling that that lack of hope and that how that feels, the withdrawal and just kind of relating that to my own personal experience with, with alcohol and, couple different times as I’ve been listening and I, I’ve been reminded of a quote that I’ll probably mess it up a little bit, but I’m, I’m guessing you’ll, you’ll get, what I’m trying to put down here is that if you want to change your behavior, you have to change your feelings.
And if you want to change your feelings, you have to change how you think. And the longer that I’ve been in sobriety, The more and more I see that now reflecting back on my journey and even just where I’m at right now, the way I think about substances, the way I think about wellness, about being my best self influences, it shapes how I feel, and then that also helps my behavior.
But I, yeah. I’ll just hit pause cuz Yeah.
Christopher: Yeah. Great. yeah, and, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s kind of another discussion and then again, it’s not because it’s, you know, we’re, we are living, we are not islands, separated, floating around in this ocean where, you know, we understand who we are by meeting other people. And, so, so being a part of it all is, is a, it’s kind of a premise for, for, for being alive, obviously.
But, but it’s also a very, I sometimes think to myself that I’m really glad that I’m not, you know, like 15 again because I. Wow, this world have really changed and I’m not sure I like the pace and all the things that’s going on. so on a deep level, I really understand how people need to pause and kind of, you know, stop the craziness and get some kind of emotional, break.
and that’s exactly what these substances do. they kind disconnect thoughts and feelings, and that’s very nice because then you don’t have to think about your, your feelings. But on the other hand, if feelings are a part of, you know, tapping into who we are and making good decisions, and, you know, dealing with all this craziness.
You’re kind of lost, so, and you can get both. So if you wanna disconnect from your feelings, you lose the ability to make good decisions and live the life that you wanna.
Dave: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. I keep taking us off on, uh, tangents, but as I look here on my desk, my, my new journal prompts really are intended for me to, to sit with my feelings more. part of my post-traumatic stress disorder is that I wouldn’t let myself. Have feelings. I try to keep it all locked up and never spent time allowing myself to feel, let alone understand and processing them.
And so my, my journal prompts, as I hold up my notepad here and read them, it’s that I have to answer these questions. I feel dot, dot, dot.
Dave: I need dot, dot dot.
Dave: I celebrate and I release
Dave: that the ability for folks to be able to, to he in a healthy manner, sit with their emotions.
Dave: It’s hard.
Christopher: I mean, it’s, it’s,
I mean, at this point in, in, in time, it’s probably the, the hardest thing. and if it’s, it’s kind of self-inflicted, right? Because the way we are living our lives and, I’m, I’m really saddened by the,
by the state of the minds. I mean, this is. You probably heard this as well, but I hear all the time when I’m talking to politicians and, and other lawmakers and, and policymakers and so on, and, and they keep saying, you know, we lost the war drugs, but to cite birth a mattress, it is not a war drugs, it’s, defense of the young, of the young people’s brain. And so it’s, you know, it’s, it’s very, at sometimes it’s very frustrating, you know, understanding kind of the premise for being an adolescent today and on the other side.
I mean, it’s, it, it, it’s a good thing to help them with, you know, true treatment. But it, it’s kind of the. In of, life where they have, haven’t got control, at least that how they feel from time to time over, you know, their situation, their future, their feelings. And they kind of, at least some of them end up in, in, in my chair.
Right. And having to do treatment. And you mentioned trauma. so, there’s this, Canadian physician, Gabo who says it’s not why the addiction, it’s why the pain. And I’m seeing that treatment and rightly so, is getting more trauma informed years. And it should be because I. When you see the addiction, it’s, it’s the top of the iceberg, right?
There’s something underneath the, I mean, it’s not the addiction or the substance use that’s a problem.
Christopher: It’s the way that this person tried to deal with the problems.
Christopher: So it’s not why the addiction, it’s why, what happened to you? So what make you, I mean, it’s not a choice really, but what make you choose cannabis, for instance?
How was that helpful to solve your feelings or your sense of, you know, not being in control of that point of life?
Dave: Mm-hmm. Absolutely. And yeah, just to add real life examples for my story. When I came back from my combat deployment in Iraq and I was suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder and, an addiction and an undiagnosed traumatic brain injury, I didn’t feel like I fit in and I felt different.
And I had these emotions and feelings that I didn’t know how to process, how to, to work through. Both from my, my trauma, but then also just wanting to fit in and those kinda stacked on top of each other and rather than learn, get support to, to work through those emotions, I, I drank and in my mind at the time, that was a way to fit in on a college campus.
I, I, I could fit in and quote, feel like I belong and also not have to deal with my emotions that I didn’t understand. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
Christopher: Yeah, exactly. So, yeah, the f the feeling, I mean, it’s, it’s really, it’s life and death, the feeling of belonging, and that’s, that’s what every person on this planet is craving for, right? We want to be identified as being part of a group or, certain kind of, you know, people, a community, whatever it is.
And sometimes the ticket you have to,to buy, to get to those networks or, communities is drugs. It’s the way, kind of back to normal. But what it does is it takes the ability to. Be normal to function in that community. So you kind of start as an outcast and you end as one. You get excluded from the community when the, you know, consequences of the addiction kicks in.
Dave: I’m gonna remember that. You start as an outcast and through addiction, you often end up as an outcast. Yeah. Wow. I’ve, I’ve never heard it. It, it said like that, and I’m just looking back at my own story, like, oh my gosh, yes.
Dave: I don’t even remember where we were gonna go with this conversation cause I’m just so lost in that thought. Wow. Yes. yeah,
Christopher: just to say that’s the whole point of, you know, we, we are both obviously obsessed with the, with the conversation, right? the, just a chance to, you know, understand something, of get a new perspective. and that’s kind of, obviously I want to help people when they’re in addiction.
I want to, you know, kind of bring them back into community and
by my small effort, you know, kind of be a stepping stone back to whatever they, identify as meaningful, meaningful, but it’s
on the same time. It’s, it’s really.
Even when it, when I don’t succeed, I should say they succeed because they’re doing all the work.
Christopher: It’s still a, it’s still a blessing to be a part of that conversation because, you know, talking to people in pain, just to be able to listen to that pain, the, the way they, you know, talk about it, whatever ma way that makes sense for them
is a privilege. And I’m really honored that people will, you know, engage in a conversation with me. because I mean, who am I to? I’m just a person, you know, with some. Sure I have some knowledge and I have some clinical experience and I could go on all day about adverse health, effects. But the point is that, I mean, and this is translatable to life in general, but to quit an addiction, you need two things to come true.
You need to find your own reason for quitting, and you need to find your own way out of the addiction. So as a counselor or clinician or a therapist, I need to be really clear that I facilitate those two conditions and that I’m not kind of, you know, forcing some kind of. Reason for quitting cannabis or saying, you should do this, or you should do, do that, or why haven’t you thought of that?
I mean, my primary, task is to kind of explore with them what makes sense in their life at this point and what would be, if at all, what would be, a first step in a new direction.
Christopher: So supporting their view on things not interfering, not kind of putting a truth over their head and whenever they start or feel like taking a first step.
Support supported as much as I can.
Dave: What other insights or wisdom could you share in relation to, to your model? To your approach?
Christopher: Yeah. Mm.
I know this might sound,
strange maybe, but really we call it HAP, and it’s,in Danish, the cannabis, the, the word for cannabis in Danish would be hash or you know, where is hashes, but so it ha it’s hash. Alvin is h a p. So, yeah. Treatment model or program for quitting cannabis addiction. And. I mean, obviously I’m not seeing everything, what’s going on, but working as a clinician and as a p as a person that educates other clinicians, you know, talking to network here and abroad and all over the world, I, I’m not seeing everything, but I have a reasonable idea on what’s going on in, in, in terms of prevention and, and, and treatment.
And to this day, I haven’t come across any treatment model that is, you know, focusing on cannabis. It’s if, if you look to treatment models, you will see, general tools for solving specific problems. So it’s fair to say that there’s a quite substantial body of evidence for cognitive therapy. I know it’s still a discussion point, but it seems to work pretty good overall.
Not for all problems, of course, but overall,
but hopefully what I got across is, you know, dealing with a cannabis addiction is kind of another ballgame. So you can’t just, I mean,
if the only thing you got in your toolbox is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
Christopher: And as I mentioned in the beginning, I was. Fascinated by seeing people quitting 20 years of heroin addiction. And I mean, I was really impressed. And but the, the really sad message, as I say, was there weren’t really any functional, difference.
Christopher: So this model specific, looks to what are the conditions when you’re in a cannabis addiction? And there’s kind of this, we normally say that we, it’s a, you get an education in, in cannabis. There’s some things we need to learn the user about what is really going on when you use cannabis. And I haven’t seen any model out there addressing it in the same way. And that’s probably why pretty much treatment doesn’t work. I mean, in the latest book I, I mean, deconstruct the kind of the guideline in Denmark, how you need to do treatment if you wanna be successful, if you wanna help. addicts quit their addiction and it’s working really bad.
I mean, half of the time we are not helping people and the half that is not helped. So every other person drops out of treatment before treatment is concluded. And I’m pretty sure it’s due to our lack of. Understanding the problem. And on the, on that note, on efficiency of treatment, when we look into the half that has actually helped, they’re not really helped because, I mean, this is, it’s evidence, it’s out there.
It’s just, you know, you can Google it and you can, you can see the, the, the guideline, the model in Denmark and, you’re defining result of being clean by being at least one month clean of cannabis. So when treatment are concluded, you would at some point check in again to make sure that the result is still there.
people, you know, judge, whether it’s still a, a result on the fact that you need at least one month clean time. But the first, page in the book on, neuropsychology and, cannabis cognitive impairment will tell you that it takes six weeks. So a lot of these people haven’t really received any help.
They haven’t really got any result. best case, they have a long break from cannabis.
Dave: One month compared to six weeks. That just makes me shake my head and like, wait a second.
Christopher: You know, just, just talking about it, it, it, I mean, that’s what keeps me up at night or makes me jump out a bit, in the morning because it’s, it’s so frustrating. And, that’s, that’s, you know, kind of the reason for saying that we, we, you know, you, we are fueling the fire here. We are part of the problem.
We, by looking at the, the substances or the substance cannabis in this way, it kind of, you know,
imagine the frustration. You finally
got the courage to reach out.
I mean, for people in, in addiction. It takes years, right? And maybe a lot of tries. At some point you reach out and, so you start treatment and you haven’t, you know, a lot of, there’s not really a lot of motivation or not a lot of hope, and you’re really scared that this might, you know, send you right back to where you came from.
And then you get into treatment and then you hear counselors talk about cannabis as you hear talked about on the streets. And so they’re not really telling you something new.
Christopher: They’re not really educating you. And by that, not really giving you. A reason to quit.
It’s kind of the same rhetoric that you hear when you come into treatment and because the person in front of you, you know, really doesn’t bring anything new to the table, don’t answer to why you can’t sleep at night without smoking.
Why you keep, you know, exploding with your girlfriend, whatever it is. They drop out of treatment and they go right back to the addiction and they tell their mates that, you know, I had this counselor and he said, well, it’s not really a problem. You just need to get the control back. So if you could just, you know, smoke a bit less and keep it to the weekends, you’ll be all right.
So, I mean, in my darkest moments, it, I just want to quit. I want to get out, I want to go back to finances or, you know, do something completely different. But yeah, so it’s a blessing to be a part of, you know, the conversation, but it’s always, also with a, a drop of frustration and indignation. I mean, I’m really, I’m fired up about the way we, we say that we want to help these people,
but we don’t really help them.
And not because we don’t know how or haven’t got access to whatever it is that would help them.
Christopher: Really. I can’t tell you why. I mean, I. Part of it is problem probably because counselors like me, you know, we want to do a good job. So we have a problem. When someone challenge that and say, so I mean as a counselor, that there’s always three questions that you should be able to answer.
So if you were working as a counselor and I would come to your house at night and wake you up and say, so Dave answered these three questions, you should be able to answer them inti instantly. And the first question is obviously, so how many is going? How many patients are going through your door?
Christopher: How many patients do you actually help?
And thirdly, how many patients drop out of the treatment that you provide?
And when I’m traveling around, No one can answer those questions. Maybe the first one. And what works is they don’t really, by not having those numbers, they don’t have a setup to try to understand, is what I’m doing really have, does it have any effect? And, you know, so that takes us back to really taking responsibility for the conversation, being the best you when you’re going into that conversation. In the book I write about what makes therapists, perform at the highest level. So there’s this phenomena, deliberate practice that teaches us that, talent is overrated.
Training is more important. So you can be a really good football player or a really good therapist with a fairly small amount of talent, but with the right type of training. So I would love to see therapists, and I know we have to pave the way, but I would love to see therapist not only in Denmark, but all over, be more dedicated to be their best version.
Christopher: Being open for, you know, my level of performance at this point,
Christopher: sometime that level suck. It’s really bad, but at least now I know.
Christopher: And I can reach out and I can get some help and I can do better. Because I mean, we are all in this game and you’re doing this podcast and you know, every one of us who’s working with this in some shape or form have one objective we want to help.
Christopher: And being in that conversation where you have been chosen, where you are the one that is to provide that help, the puts a lot of response on our shoulders.
And at this point, we are not taking it seriously.
And the really, if I can just add that, the really sad part about it, and I see that all the time, is when it doesn’t work, when treatment doesn’t work.
We blame the patient I hear on a daily basis because, you know, they, the patients come into us or I talk to, to fellow, therapists. It’s, I mean, it’s so often it’s kind of the new normal that patients are thrown out of treatment because with the message, well, you’re not motivated. And when I say what I say, it’s a therapist that kind of, disqualifies patients as way is that I say, sorry, he’s not motivated with you. A very important thing about cannabis is that, as we talked about earlier, you’re not able to see how you. Work how you are able to solve everyday problem, and that kind of makes you blind for changing. So at least when we speak to cannabis, seeing that I have a problem is not a matter of choice or will, it’s a capacity in the brain that’s not there. I use this metaphor with a, a normally functioning brain would have a helicopter that would, you know,
supervise whatever’s going on in your life and sending you feedback. Real time letting you know whether you perform, in a way that makes you meet the standards or expectations or not, which gives you a chance to, you know, adjust and do better.
Christopher: But that helicopter is crashed when you smoke cannabis.
So people are going around in a world and thinking everything is hundo, everything is good. It’s obviously all the other people who misunderstands me. So you can see it’s really on us to help them kind of understand what is going on. And my experience with working this way is the minute they see how, their ability to understand what’s really the problem and why they were.
In that prison, so to speak. Two things happen. They immediately start reducing and they say, so this is, this is why my, my life doesn’t function. How can I, you know, what can we do? How can I get back to a normally a normal life where things are, are functional, functioning again. And, that’s kind of the treatment model.
We have this, this part where we educate them and we have this part where we sort of help them make the transition back to the community. So it’s partly, you know, there’s a, a, a physical focus and there’s a mental focus and there’s a social focus where we wanna integrate them to back into the community.
Dave: When, when you’re talking about the, the, the therapists and you having that mindset of continued growth, continued learning, wanting to be your best, I had a, a couple things come to mind. One being this might, age me a little bit, but, here in the us Michael Jordan, basketball player, even Michael Jordan, had a coach to help him improve his game.
And he practiced, practiced, practiced, and he needed a coach. And the other thought that I had too, actually comes from my, my father, a piece of wisdom that he shared with me. Is that, you know, you might hear, oh, you need to lead by example. But he told me, throw that thought out the window. Because it’s one thing to show up to work, put on your uniform, put on your hat and check the box and, you know, quote, do what you’re supposed to do.
But if you wanna lead by example, you need to live by example. That authenticity, and that’s what will inspire folks to, to follow you. And I was kind of relating that to how you’re talking about, about therapists. And we are therapists need to, to live by example. Not necessarily be, be perfect, but model those healthy behaviors, those norms that continued learning, get educated, ask for help, learn to grow.
All of those, those positive norms, we, we need to model those as well.
Christopher: Exactly. That’s, I mean, well put. I normally say that, you know, we are a role model and what defines whether you are qualified as a role model or not. Is how you behave when nobody is looking.
Dave: And the, the power of a role model. being a new father, my wife and I kind of joke, she teases me a little bit that pretty soon I’m gonna have to start eating my vegetables because I want to be a good role model for our daughter. It’s like, oh,
Dave: we’ve been chatting for some time now and wanna kind of start to close out this, this wonderful conversation.
We could chat for hours and hours on, on end, I can tell. But, wanna ask two remaining questions for you.
Dave: One being how can our listeners get connected with you or stay up to date or even I. Get your books.
Christopher: Right. So, yeah, The first book I wrote back in 2013, it was a book on parenting and, to the point on helping your son or daughter quitting the cannabis addiction. I’m glad to say that it’s translated into English, so it’s accessible. It’s called Teens Using Cannabis, A Guide for Concerned Parents.
Christopher: And I would really, at this point, I haven’t, my webpage isn’t on, on, on English, but you know, there’s.
You could find your way around and, and, and contact me and, you know, I, I could send you the book. it’s not a problem. I do that all the time. And, so that would be one resource, and it’s just a note on that. So, what, I mean, till this day, I, I have to, you know, sometimes I can’t believe it’s true, but what we discover, discovered with that book was that it was possible to help people out of addiction without even talking to them.
The only intervention was talking to the parents. Mm-hmm. So it tells you how much, obviously, influence parents have, not only on adolescents, but but also pretty grown up people. I mean, in their. Mid twenties or whatever. so it’s a, it’s a how to book and it takes you through the different phases on what’s going on, if you have a, a teenage kid at home, and, based on, sadly, but real praxis, real evidence, what not to do.
And then of course, what to do instead. if you are. So that would be a resource for parents or just people who wanna, you know, dive into, maybe you’re in a relationship with someone with a cannabis addiction and you wanna understand how to, you know, be the best kind of help you could be.
Christopher: The other book is, and I’m sorry for the title, But, you know, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a big ocean out there and you, you know, I wanna make it at the end in the universe.
So, so the book is called The Most Important Book you ever read about cannabis? It’s a big, it’s a bit, big, I know, but, but really it’s kind of 20 years of clinical experience and what I’ve seen and heard with nearly daily conversations with cannabis users over the years. I just kind of, you know, empty my head into the, the, the paper in front of me and that became the book.
And what’s really interesting about the book is it takes you around, you know, all that we have been talking about here, and it provides the treatment model. And there’s on top of that the, you know, guided praxis if you wanna. Perform like the top 10% therapist. I kind of lay out the model there. So there’s a model of, you know, quitting cannabis addiction and in addition to that, the model on how to be a, I think they’re called super shrinks, the therapist that, you know, really, really do a different difference, right?
So, yeah, that would be, two resources. and as we talked about before we went on the podcast here, this is my debut. So thank you Dave for having me. I mean, I, I hope in the future I can, you know, look back on a lot of podcasts like this. I, I find it very inspiring. And again, thank you very much for having me.
Dave: I may have already made a mental note of two of our past episodes to send you that I think you might find interesting.
Christopher: Awesome. Please do.
my last question, if you’re ready for it. Let’s go.
Dave: alright. If you were to tell our listeners, if you’re gonna remember one thing from this episode, remember this, what would that be?
That’s a very good question. You can take as much time as you need. I know it’s a big one.
Christopher: yeah, it is. It is. Wow. honestly, I feel that there was a lot of things that you said that were really profound and, and I mean gold nuggets. yeah, I guess I would say that, I’m not sure how much we talked about it, but if I could, you know, just one chance to get one message across, I would say, and I know it’s a bit. Might be a bit political, but
be careful what you think about, what you learn from, the media and, in some instances, lawmakers and, and politicians in terms of what is real evidence on cannabis. And, you know, when I started this journey, I, I, I guess I did, as many people are, are doing today, parents and kids that wanna know what is really going on with this substance.
And, so, you know, Dr. Google, what’s cannabis? And and you get like, I don’t know, 50 million hits, right? And you can start sorting out. And, and I went in on that journey as well. And, you know, I was exhausted and came to that realization that I haven’t got the capacity to, you know, and I would guess parents or kids don’t either, but to kind of deconstruct all this information.
So what I did was I reached out to, it could be Drug-free America, it could be, you know, in my case I reached out to, and people who really understood this on a deeper level. And I know reaching out to a scientist is not really
within, the possibilities of. people just going about their life and wanna understand these complex things. But, but what you could do is, you know, so whenever you hear something, look in your community, reach out to at least get a second opinion. And that’s partly why I wrote the last book. .
I mean, it’s filled up with evidence and so you can disagree, but, you know, you’re not disagreeing with me, you’re disagreeing with science. So that’s perfectly okay. But I mean, we, we need to have a reference point in this discussion, whether we talk prevention, treatment, legalization, decriminalization, we need to, you know, kind of be on the same, at least starting page.
So to, to boil that down. don’t under underestimate cannabis. I mean it’s, you know, make sure that you. Reach out and get a second opinion about what’s really going on, because if you don’t, you will be presented and it’s here in Denmark, but I, I feel it’s very strong in, in the US with a certain kind of narrative that this is not a problem and it should be used actually because it’s, it’s kind of a bite to mind or, you know, some kind of, it helps you with all your problems when really it takes the ability to solve the problems in your life.
Dave: I definitely put you on the spot with that question, but beautiful,
beautiful wisdom. And with that, I wanna take it back to actually my very first question when you shared that you wanted to change the world through finance. And I’ll push back and say, you are changing the world on a huge big scale through all of those single individual conversations that you’re having, that you are a part of.
So thank you for changing the world and being who you are. It’s been, it’s been an honor and I, I, I can’t wait till our next conversation cuz it’s been an absolute delight.
Christopher: Thank you very much Dave. Thank you for the kind words. And you know, hearing it from, from a person who knows what’s going on and is concerned with these problems, it, it makes all the difference. So, so thank you very much. it’s really encouraging and I promise you to push on and, and do some more work.
Dave: Marvelous. Keep on keeping on cuz prevention is better together.
Christopher: Exactly. Thank you.