From a drug dealer to a nurse: Man’s story of recovery and success inspires

GRATEFUL: 34-year-old Craig Solomons. Picture: Monique Duval

GRATEFUL: 34-year-old Craig Solomons. Picture: Monique Duval

Published Sep 21, 2021


A Ravensmead man has shared his story of hope, overcoming drug addiction and transforming himself from a drug dealer into a cardiac nurse.

Dad of two Craig Solomons, 34, told his story on Facebook last week and his post went viral after being shared over 4 000 times.

In an exclusive interview with the Daily Voice, Craig says the first time he did drugs, he was 16 and angry at his mother Bonita Engel, 56, for being unable to host him a party.

“My friend came and said there is a party we can go to and there were beers, Mandrax and tik.

“That was the first time I tried tik and it gave me a good feeling, so the next day I did it again and it all went downhill from there,” he explains.

Craig Solomons, 34 is bringing hope to drug addicts as he shares his journey to overcome his addiction. Picture: Facebook

Not long after, he was recruited by the local drug dealer and started selling tik to his classmates at the larney school he attended in the northern suburbs.

“I had Grade 8s and Grade 9s selling for me. I worked out a way to hide the drugs in my Nokia 3310 and I was very clever and never got caught.

“I was making enough money to pay the supplier and use myself,” says Craig.

Bonita says she was in disbelief when she found out about his drug dealing.

After failing Grade 11, Craig was enrolled in a private college where he was pressured by the dealer to continue selling but it didn’t work “because there was too much competition”.

Craig started bunking classes, lying to his parents and stole stuff from the house to support his drug habit.

At the age of 20, Craig and his friend came under attack at a drug party and this was the final straw for his family who sent him to Johannesburg to live with relatives.

He says the first few months were hell as he went cold turkey: “I got sick and had night sweats during my recovery.”

After matric, he returned to Cape Town for his 21st birthday but then faced an uphill battle finding a job.

After walking for hours to drop his CV and checking local newspapers, he landed a job at a plastic moulding factory.

From there he completed his Security Grades and was employed as a guard and cart driver at Kuils River Netcare.

But the turning point came when he shared his story with a female colleague: “The minute something went missing, everyone would look at me and I felt bad because I was doing was sharing my journey.”

He then heard of a vacancy for a sterilisation technician and went to the hospital’s Human Resources department to enquire “every day”.

“One day a lady named Yolanda had a flat tyre and I helped her and asked for help.

“She told me to come the next day and helped change my CV and I got an interview.”

Two years later he enrolled for a Netcare nursing course and after two years, he qualified and went to work at the N1 City Hospital.

“I was working in the ICU and they needed someone in theatre to assist.

“The doctor was so kind in the cardiac lab and helped me learn and I became the first student to do five successful cardiac operations in one day,” he says proudly.

PAY OFF: Craig, a cardiac nurse, at work in the operating theatre. Picture: Facebook

Craig currently works for Pathcare and looking back, he says he is grateful for the lessons learnt but is worried about young drug addicts in his community.

As the founder of Static Nation car club, he hosts various charity drives.

“To the youngsters who are doing drugs, you are making the worst mistake of your life. It’s not easy (stopping) and I consider myself lucky but many have ended up dead.

“Find someone and speak out and ask for help.”

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Daily Voice