Are Online Tests To Determine Addictive Personality Worth It? No—Here’s Why

Medically reviewed by Arianna Williams, LPC, CCTP
Updated May 30, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention substance use-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use, contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Support is available 24/7. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.
Addiction can involve a complex series of interactions between both genetic and environmental factors in many cases. This can mean that someone can develop an addiction quickly or slowly over time. This strongly suggests that there is no singular presentation of addiction—making online-exclusive quizzes less than effective for many seeking diagnostic support.

If you’re curious about possible traits of addictive personality disorder or other sides of addiction in your life, ongoing education and online therapy can be helpful tools to help elevate your quality of life. Below, we explore how addictions and symptoms can develop in many, as well as the possible efficacy of online addictive personality tests compared to other forms of support.

Concerned about possible addictive personality?

What is an addictive personality?

Despite its common use, the term or diagnosis of an addictive personality is not one that’s generally recognized as a formal, classified personality disorder. The term is seen by many as a colloquial phrase that stems from the idea that a particular set of traits can make individuals more prone to mental health conditions, such as substance use disorder.  

The most common characteristics that can be associated with the concept of an addictive personality disorder might be dishonesty, urges to manipulate for personal gain, impulsivity, thrill-seeking behavior, selfishness, irritability, and interpersonal conflict. 

Proponents of this idea suggest that identifying these traits in an individual can improve the likelihood of preventing substance use disorder, or at least limiting possible causes through environmental factors. A greater observance and awareness of this possible personality profile can also empower people to be screened for possible addictive traits, possibly prompting many to seek early intervention and support prior to the full establishment and expression of substance use disorder. 

We do want to note that although some individuals experiencing substance use disorder can be prone to dishonesty, selfishness, manipulative thinking, and thrill-seeking behavior, these components are not generally present in all individuals who may have an addiction, or who meet the criteria for a formal substance use disorder diagnosis. 

How does addiction manifest?

Addiction can manifest in the form of compulsive behavior. As a result, many addictions might be researched and understood from the perspective of compulsive disorders, rather than addictive ones.

Addiction can present in many as a compulsive need to indulge in behaviors or consume an item. For example: Someone who is addicted to shopping might compulsively check their email for coupons, and seek out opportunities to shop and spend money—even when it adversely affects them. Addiction can occur across many different areas of compulsion or need, possibly to the detriment of the person’s health, safety, or happiness.

Addiction can be far more than a tendency toward a specific preference or behavior for most. Rather; addiction can be an uncontrolled, overwhelming, and unhealthy compulsion to engage in a certain behavior—such as consumption of a certain item or element. While addiction or substance use disorder should not be taken lightly, difficulty abstaining from something is not generally enough to qualify an individual as having a formal addiction.

Addiction vs. use: Exploring the nuanced reality of addiction and related disorders 

The terms substance addiction and substance use are often used interchangeably to describe an individual’s challenges with substances like alcohol or illicit drugs. There are differences between the two, however, particularly from a clinical standpoint. Consider this example: A person using a substance can be using it in either a healthy or unhealthy way. Unhealthy ways to use alcohol, for example, can include binge drinking on a Saturday night until a person is in a position where they may harm themselves (or others). Alternatively, alcohol consumed in moderation can enhance one’s experience at social gatherings, offering a pleasant pastime for many. 

Generally speaking, someone who simply uses a substance generally has not lost control of their life or faculties. Someone who is addicted to a substance, however, may have difficulty abstaining—possibly experiencing urges to consume at a harmful level or in a harmful way. 

Online addictive personality tests: Are they worth it?

Because addictive personality is not generally seen as a formal diagnosis, legitimate confirmation and testing may require more in-depth analysis than you’ll find from an online exam. 

If you do decide to take an online personality test, you might consider using the results to identify possible areas of support that online therapy could assist you in, rather than a formal confirmation of a diagnosis. 

In a general sense, online tests should generally not be used as a replacement for a formal diagnosis from a licensed and trained professional. You can enjoy a higher quality of life and possibly more effective treatment by allowing your clinician or psychiatrist to diagnose and support you, rather than an online quiz. 

Symptoms of addiction: What to watch for and when to seek help 

There are distinct actions and symptoms that can be commonly associated with addiction for many—and understanding the range of presentations can positively impact one’s quality of life, possibly indicating areas of need to them or a point in their experience when they may benefit from therapeutic intervention. 

These often common symptoms can include:

  • Compulsive behavior: This can be noted in a range of areas in the person’s life, rather than just with the substance in question. 
  • Out-of-control feelings: People may create rules for themselves, such as “Just one more,” or “just a few more minutes.” They might also develop rules such as “Only on the weekends,” or “only a few times a month.” This generally promotes healthy consumption of the substance or occurrence of the action in question. Conversely, in addiction, people might break their rules repeatedly—as the mechanism to keep impulses at bay may no longer be effective.
  • Obsessive thoughts: These thoughts can pop up frequently and without warning, and may not respond to an individual’s effort to move on to other thoughts.
  • Intense cravings: People who live with an addiction or substance use disorder may experience extreme and overwhelming cravings for the item or behavior they desire—or for other things that might be unrelated. 
Concerned about possible addictive personality?

Addiction treatment and recovery

Addiction treatment is approached using a variety of methods, including lifestyle changes, peer support and therapy—both in an online or in-person format. Those living with the disorder may also choose a unified approach, using all three in their management experience. Therapy, for example, can help one to get to the root of an addiction and possibly address any traits or trauma that can be feeding the addictive cycle. Peer support can aid many in accountability and a higher quality of life, and lifestyle changes can promote sustained positive change.

How can online therapy support those experiencing addiction? 

Many can receive qualified help through online therapy platforms like BetterHelp, which may help alleviate time restraints, financial barriers, and fear of stigma that can be associated with traditional face-to-face therapeutic intervention. 

Additionally, online therapy can also be invaluable for people struggling with addiction, as they can book a session in real-time—which is a perk that may be limited to other therapeutic options. The ability to speak in real-time with a licensed therapist can help someone overcome an urge to resort to addictive behaviors when they otherwise would have had to wait to book an in-person appointment. 

Establishing a gap between a stimulus and an addictive response is generally considered to be a key part of addiction recovery for many. BetterHelp’s ability to possibly elongate this pause can give online therapy participants a major advantage compared to in-person counseling.

Online therapy has been suggested to show promise in helping people overcome addictive behaviors. In one study, researchers found information that suggested that online interventions were effective in reducing alcohol and cannabis consumption in the given test group, possibly promoting an efficient means to a higher quality of life. Many believe that online therapy could provide a safe space for many to explore their potential for growth past the state of addiction, possibly prompting many to seek a healthier future.


The term “addictive personality” can be something of a misnomer, as it may suggest that there are common traits that lead to addiction in many cases. Although this is not necessarily the case, the DSM-5 has expanded its definitions of addiction and addiction disorders—and many bodies of evidence continue to evaluate and acknowledge the possibility of becoming addicted to substances and activities not previously included in addiction guidelines.

With this nuance in mind, online tests may not be the most effective diagnostic tool. It is generally best for many to seek support and diagnostic care from their clinician or psychiatrist. From that point, they may also choose to enact lifestyle changes or seek online therapy to promote a higher quality of life. BetterHelp can connect you with an online therapist in your area of need.

Tests can bring up many emotions
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