Escape Velocity


Andrew Susskind, MSW, SEP, CGP

Andrew Susskind, MSW, SEP, CGP is a pioneer in the cutting-edge field of Recovery Coaching. In 2005, he co-founded Recovery Coaches International (RCI), a grassroots organization dedicated to integrating coaching into the addiction recovery community, and he recently released his workbook entitled, From Now On: Seven Keys to Purposeful Recovery. Andrew wears several hats: as a Recovery Coach, licensed psychotherapist, author and workshop leader  as a result, he brings a multi-faceted perspective and expertise to the work. He maintains a private practice in psychotherapy in West Los Angeles and can be reached at

Apparently most of the fuel that is used by spaceships traveling to the moon is consumed in just getting them beyond earth’s gravity. After they have done so, NASA scientists count on lunar gravity to pull the spaceship toward the moon. Similarly, it is “escape velocity” that requires most of the energy moving us away from our former way of life. A compelling vision must be so clear and so powerful that its very magnetism and gravitational forces will literally pull you toward it.
–Laurie Beth Jones

“Escape velocity” requires rocket fuel and combustion to move us away from old patterns and into a brand-new orbit. Clarifying one’s core values and discovering greater purpose are the primary ingredients toward a meaningful, effective vision in recovery.

Living life with purpose – what does this really mean? Investing yourself in a recovery process opens up a window of opportunity to ask yourself essential questions and to start to imagine what purpose will unfold for you.

Many years ago I worked with a chaplain who told me that purpose does not always reveal itself unless we ask the right questions–questions such as:

    • What gives your life meaning today?
    • What is your sense of purpose so far in your life?
    • What type of legacy would you like to leave behind?

Orthodox rabbis in Jerusalem are masters of debate, confrontation, and exploring many of the tough, spiritual questions. Yet, much of the time they never actually arrive at crystal-clear answers. Is it necessary to have all of the answers in this chapter of your life? Of course not.

But the humility of not always having the exact answers coupled with the willingness to follow your unique rhythm makes room for a more purposeful path. In this post adapted from my workbook, we’ll explore how to uncover your unique rhythm.

As human beings in recovery, we have the rare opportunity to utilize relationships to gather and absorb wisdom through sponsors, therapists, coaches, yoga teachers, etc. – all with valuable experience, perspective and guidance. If you believe in God or a Higher Power, tap into your spiritual practice to explore your purpose or to search for greater meaning.

Digesting and synthesizing all of this information helps you choose what fits for you and what does not. Then you can make a conscious decision to integrate purpose into your recovery allowing your authentic recovery voice to take shape. But how does this happen?

You’ll begin discovering some of the answers available to you through the powerful tool of “visioning.” Many of my clients through the years arrived in my office looking for the so-called expert with the right answers to make them feel better. Yet, this implies that the answers are somewhere else. The answers are inside of you, but where do you begin to find them?

Walt Disney coined the term imagineering to describe the process of imagining limitless possibilities. As we know, he was a visionary and a pioneer who set out to create the Happiest Place on Earth. By putting one foot in front of the other, he created Disneyland as well as the international phenomena called Disney.

No matter what your opinion of Walt Disney may be, we can all agree that he started with a vision and created an empire. He took a blank canvas, invited a team of imagineers (or like-minded people) and took one action after another until theme parks, full-length animated motion pictures and iconic characters were born.

A vision can be short-term or long-term–large or small. It can fit into any timeframe that feels right for you. Begin slowly and build muscle until you reach a longer-term vision. If you feel overwhelmed at any point, stop. The intention of this exercise is to allow you to create safe stretch goals and pace yourself accordingly.

Visioning (or imagineering) offers you the freedom to stretch beyond your everyday routine and comfort zone by creating a longer-term vision of what you would like to design in the coming year. Give yourself plenty of time to meditate on these ideas before writing. Feel free to take as much time as you need to explore the possibilities. 

Now it’s time to imagine the year ahead. By creating a trajectory toward a mindful future, you’ll build more structure and momentum as part of your purposeful recovery. Please consider the following questions as you write about the possibilities for the coming year:

    • Give shape and voice to the vision of your life and recovery 12 months from now. (If 12 months feels too distant to you, please shorten the length of time to suit what feels more productive to you).
    • How would you describe your heart’s desire?
    • What do you want to invite into your life personally and professionally?

As you allow the visioning process to unfold, keep in mind that “escape velocity” is the aim. Your rocket may be ready for take-off now, or it may need some time to collect fuel and create combustion. Most of all, remember that it’s not that anything has to happen, but simply what could happen that counts at this stage of the launch.

Adapted from the recently released workbook entitled From Now On: Seven Keys to Purposeful Recovery by Andrew Susskind, MSW, SEP, CGP. Andrew’s website is

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2 Responses to Escape Velocity

  1. Logosu Amegashie says:

    ‘Escape velocity’ initially sounded strange in connection with recovery from addiction.However,after reading through your piece it really makes sense and as therapists and recovering addicts we need to adopt and adapt this concept of take off immediately we start the process of recovery from all addictions especially drug addiction.This attitude of self introspection that the 12 Steps recovery programmes of Narcotic and Alcoholics Anonymous offers especially the 4th step gives the client the opportunity to commence his or her redefinition of what gone wrong and what positives are left in their lives.Going through a very honest and comprehensive 4th with the assistance and support of a sponsor,a counsellor or a therapist provides the requisite energy for the escape velocity.When the ‘house’ is well clean and not in a hurry the departure from our old and useless pattern of living is daily substituted with the well planned daily purposeful living each day,knowing very that the days will turn to weeks to months and to years.I seriously agree to this concept because it prevents the quick relapse of some of our cases because the clients are not well coached to have a future plan after treatment.As part of the process of discharge clients should again be quizzed to confirm their earlier desires as to what they want to do with their lives after treatment.This will enable the therapist,the client and their families and significant others to agree and support the client to do what his heart desires.The numerous aftercare that different treatment protocols have must be well- tailored to be socioeconomically,culturally,and spiritually relevant to the varied clients.The personalization of the Higher Power Concept to propel this ‘ESCAPE VELOCITY’ is very paramount.Luckily,l trust a very experienced therapist should be able to use AA and NA Steps to help their clients achieve this escape velocity.

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