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The Lookout | December 18, 2018

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Hope is message of reporter’s book

Hope is message of reporter’s book
The Lookout

Shelby Schueller
Associate Editor

When he is not going to school, LCC student Aaron Emerson spends time as news editor for The Lookout and a reporter for Mason Today. He also works to spread awareness about addiction by sharing his story of a personal experience.

This experience is documented in Emerson’s new book, “To Hell And Back: Heroin And Recovery,” which he published as an e-book on Jan. 6.

“To Hell And Back: Heroin And Recovery” tells the story of how Emerson’s use of marijuana at 14 led to an addiction to painkillers, and eventually heroin at age 19, when the painkiller addiction became too expensive to support.

Emerson, now 24, said the book covers everything he went through, including jail, overdoses and his journey during his first year of recovery in rehabilitation centers at age 22.

The book is written in the form of journal entries he wrote while he was experiencing these events.

“I looked through all these journals and I had a bunch of crazy situations, things that I went through in my addiction (and) recovery, all documented,” Emerson said. “I thought that would be a unique memoir to put those together in a timeline fashion and make it into a book.”

According to Emerson, the journal entries are mostly unchanged from when he originally wrote them.

“I didn’t really have to edit much because I didn’t want to take away from anything,” he said. “I wanted it to be like what it’s like being in the mind of an addict trying to find recovery and I felt like if I edited some of my journals it would have taken away some of the authenticity.”

The e-book is now being sold on for $7.99. In this form, it is 91 pages long, but that could change once it is published as a softcover book, according to Emerson.

Emerson said he wrote the book on and off for about a year, mostly during breaks from school and when he found time.

He then used the Amazon publishing program called “Kindle Direct Publishing,” which allows authors to upload a manuscript for free as long as certain guidelines are followed in regard to dimensions. Emerson said a friend designed the cover for his book.

According to Emerson, the e-book format is not limited to e-readers. It can be read on any smartphone, tablet or computer that can download the Kindle app.

Emerson said he is using the profits from the e-book to publish it as a softcover book, a goal he believes possible in the next few months.

In the future, Emerson said he plans to continue trying to make a difference through his writing and journalism career.

Rhonda Emerson, Aaron’s mother, said she thinks the book can spread awareness and help people understand addiction.

“We’ve always heard that as hard as it is for the family, it’s even harder for the addict and I don’t think that a lot of people get that or understand that,” she said. “I think by reading his actual journals and what he was actually thinking at the time … (it is) really helpful and really good. It was sad at times, but enlightening at the same time.”

Aaron Emerson said in addition to his book, he spreads awareness by sharing his story at area high schools, serving as an advisory board member for a support group called Families Against Narcotics and sharing parts of his story and other inspiring works in his blog.

Emerson said in addition to spreading awareness, he wants his book to send a message of hope.

“I think that no matter how far somebody is in the dumps with anything in life, even if it’s not an addiction … anything that brings people down, no matter how far or low you think you are, there’s always hope,” he said.

“I always say if you’re alive, hope is alive, so no matter what is going on and how low you are, there’s always an opportunity if you’re still living.”

To purchase “To Hell And Back: Heroin And Recovery,” visit To read Aaron’s blog, visit


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