When you’re going through a mental of behavioral health struggle, you need understanding from people who have learned experience. We get it.
What’s why, in addition to local nurses and social workers, our behavioral health team also includes non-clinical, trained Arkansas Blue Cross employees who are certified peer support specialists. Working with the nurses and social workers, they serve as a single point of contact to coordinate integrated, whole-person care. The peer support specialists help members, who often have both physical and behavioral illnesses, connect to the medical care and resources they need for recovery, improved health and overall well-being.
Peer support specialists Ashley LaHue, Liz Greenbaum, and Tojuana Greenlaw all have struggled with Substance Use Disorder (SUD), which can range from moderate to severe and can lead to addiction and mental health issues. They have “lived experience.” Simply put, they have walked the walk. But all three are now in lifelong recovery.
“Hurt, lonely and neglected,” is how Tojuana describes the emotions leading to her descent into addiction. She had a decent childhood, raised by both parents in a family-oriented home. Her struggle began when her parents separated and her mother, dealing with her own circumstances, left. “We were left with my father, who did the best he could,” Tojuana said. “This is a time in my life where the hurt was very real.”
She spent the next 15 years on the streets with alcohol and drugs, trying to numb the pain and fill the void. She was arrested and had children of her own. “I found myself like a roaring tornado, tearing though the lives of the people I cared about most,” she said. In 2010, Tojuana entered treatment and began her recovery.
She and the other peer support specialists, Ashley LaHue and Liz Greenbaum, have worked hard to achieve a lifelong recovery. They know it’s not a straight path, but one with ups and downs.
Today, Tojuana says she has never been happier. “I have a wonderful relationship with my children, three beautiful grandchildren, my family and most of all, myself.”
“It’s only right that I now help others,” Tojuana said. “You are not alone. It’s okay to say, ‘I need help.’ “
According to a 2021 U.S. survey on substance use disorders among people aged 12 or older, 21.9% had used illicit drugs within the past year.
The journey to recovery takes time, and our certified peer support specialists can help. For more information, or to speak to our team, call 800-225-1891, Monday- Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (CST). For virtual health options, benefits or to find a local provider, sign in or register for Blueprint Portal at blueprintportal.com.
Many of our plans also provide 24/7 access to a substance se disorder program powered by Bright Heart Health*. For more information about the program, visit brighthearthealth.com/contact-us or call 800-892-2695.
*Bright Heart Health is a separate company that provides substance use disorder services for eligible members of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Health Advantage, and BlueAdvantage Administrators of Arkansas members, all independent licensees of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.