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Racine woman becomes weightlifting champion after heroin overdose and surprise pregnancy

"I was at my lowest point in my life 4 years ago," Heather Braun said.
Posted at 6:01 PM, Oct 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-08 08:16:00-04

RACINE, Wis. — Four years ago 34-year-old Heather Braun, from Racine, woke up in a hospital. She overdosed on heroin. The doctors said they drew her blood and found out she was pregnant. That was the moment everything changed.

"I was at my lowest point in my life four years ago," Braun said.

She got clean, raised her daughter, and even won a state weightlifting competition.

Heather Braun
After waking up in a hospital from an opioid overdose, Braun said she is truly happy with her life and wants to focus on weightlifting and being a mom to her daughter.

Heather Braun's Story

Braun battled opioid addiction on and off for ten years. She had tried to get sober before, but it didn't stick. However, this time it did.

She credits two things that helped her kick her addiction: her daughter and weightlifting.

Becoming A Mom

"(My daughter) has no idea like how big of like the hero she is," Braun said.

She wanted to be the mother that her daughter deserved. It wasn't easy, though. Opioid addiction results in a severe physical dependence on the drug. Getting clean takes a lot of hard work and suffering.

Heather Braun
Braun and her daughter flex while posing for a picture.

"You can’t just, you know, stop, and that’s with nothing because your body goes through withdrawals which means your baby that's living inside of you - it can be fatal," she said.

So Braun took suboxone, a drug that helps decrease the severity of withdrawals, for a few years to help with the dependency. She stopped taking it in 2021.


Becoming sober requires various steps, tools, and support from loved ones. For Braun, one of the tools that made a huge difference in maintaining her sobriety was weightlifting. She stepped into the Mt. Sinai Gym in Racine. From there, she persevered through the physical pain of weightlifting and the withdrawals.

Casual working out turned into a desire to compete. Her second-ever competition was the state championships. She won the meet and qualified for the national competition.

Heather Braun
Braun poses with her trainer after winning the state weightlifting championship.

For Braun, working out is her saving grace. It's work, but so is sobriety. Weightlifting has become part of who she is and it's what gave her the strength to beat addiction.

"It's like a mixture between euphoria and death," she said about the feeling she gets while lifting.

The Future

Truth be told, Braun was hesitant to do this interview. That makes sense. She was going to tell a very personal story to a stranger in front of a camera for others to read and watch. So why did she do it?

"If (my story) just touches one person, and helps give them hope that like (sobriety) is possible. There is happiness on the other side," she said.

Heather Braun
Braun flexes to show off the muscles she has earned through hard work and determination.

Braun wants to help other people beat addiction. She wouldn't mind winning a few more competitions either. But most importantly, she wants to be the best mom she can be for her daughter.

"That's the biggest thing. I want to be a good example for my daughter. I want to make her proud."

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