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What Is Prodromal

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Updated August 11, 2010

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Definition:

The term prodromal is a general medical term that can be applied to a symptom or a group of symptoms that occur before the full onset of a disease or syndrome. Although the term prodromal may be used to describe the early signs of addiction, it is applied to many other conditions in medicine. Examples of conditions related to addiction that may have a prodromal stage include alcohol dependence syndrome and cocaine dependence -- individuals at the prodromal stage may be experiencing a range of problems related to their substance use or addictive behavior but do not fully fit the DSM-IV criteria for addiction at that point in time.

Early intervention at the prodromal stage may prevent the prodrome from developing into a full disorder.

Pronunciation: prO - drO - mul
Also Known As: prodrome, at risk
Examples:
Although only about 4% of cocaine users have developed cocaine dependence two years later, around 16% may be in an early prodromal stage of addiction.

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