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Multiple Chems Grouped

A variety of common chems (clockwise from top: a super stimpak, jet, med-x, mentats, and buffout)

So many chems, such varieties! Whenever I take Mentats, I can feel my entire chassis breeeeeathe like a big spherical lung.*coughs*Doctor Mobius

Chem (a truncation of "chemical") is wasteland slang for drugs. Chems are ubiquitous in the post-war world, ranging from pre-war pharmaceutical aids to homebrewed narcotics, and generally provide temporary performance- or mood-enhancing effects to their users. These benefits often come at the cost of long-term health issues, the most common being addiction.


Chems are substances created both before and after the Great War, resulting in both positive and negative side effects. Examples of such drugs include Mentats, a pre-War "party-drug" originally developed by Med-Tek for medical purposes, Buffout, a "sports-enhancement" drug popularized by athletes, Psycho, a combat-enhancement drug developed at the behest of General Chase, and Med-X, a painkiller found in many hospitals, and barbiturates being widely abused in-general.[1][Non-game 1][Non-game 2][Non-game 3] While drug usage had become more lenient with many pharmaceutical companies producing and peddling essentially dope and other substances

Evidence of illegal drug trafficking can be found in the wasteland, such as within the wreckage of Skylanes Air Flight 1981. The airliner contained a hidden compartment with a manifest including multiple chems, weapons, and cash.[2]

Post-War, chems are still as prevalent and arguably even more popular than they were before as all laws that might have hindered enterprising individuals from simply just creating a chem from scratch gone. After the war, new chems were invented alongside the pre-War variants, created and spread by post-War groups such as the Great Khans, based on chemistry lessons taught by the Followers of the Apocalypse.[3][4][5]

With the advent of new nations, new laws have begun to be enacted to curb the unhindered usage growth of chems. In the New California Republic, trafficking chems is a serious crime and is actively enforced by the New California Republic Army and Rangers who arrest anyone they can apprehend.[6] However, arrests hinge on the intent to produce as the ingredients are easily useful by themselves or for entirely different purposes.[7] Chem dealers with knowledge of this often use caravan companies and other courier services to traffic the ingredients without raising suspicion,[8] but intent can be inferred by the state and an arrest made whether or not intent was communicated.[9] The severity of the crime can also affect the sentencing and punishment, such as a dealer working within the military can be killed by firing squad if found guilty.[10]

Caesar's Legion entirely forbids the use of alcohol and chems - even Stimpaks - in their territory as detrimental to the human condition and Caesar's long-term plans to reshape humanity.[11] As such, anyone found in possession of prohibited substances are usually crucified as an example for others.[12] Many merchants already know and accept this restriction as it's simply too profitable to not sell to the Legion.[13] However, Caesar makes an exception for his Auto-Doc, which can administer painkillers like Med-X freely, as a perk for himself and a powerful reward for exceptional legionaries.[14]

Types of chems[]

See also: Addiction

Various chems exist in the wasteland, some more beneficial than others. Each chem has an individual profile, allowing users to "stack" chems to provide a larger bonus than either does individually¹. Chems may have several simultaneous positive effects, but usually carry negative effects: It might lower one stat while raising another. Abusing chems results in addiction. Addiction to a chem will cause withdrawal symptoms when the chem wears off, resulting in lowered stats unless the user continues to take the drug, or seeks a cure or treatments. Chems are divided into two groups: addictive, and non-addictive.

¹ Fallout 76 - chems do not stack; only one may be active at a time.


  • Chems can be found lying about individually or inside containers.
  • They can also be purchased from wasteland vendors. While nearly every vendor will have at least a few stimpaks for sale, some chems will need to be purchased from one of the vendors specializing in chems.
  • In some cases, chems can be crafted.

Behind the scenes[]

In the release of Fallout 3 in Australia, the game was banned for including references to real drugs. A report was released by the OFLC on why it banned the game. One of the reasons for the ban was that the controlled drug, morphine, was one of the chems that would have been available in-game. As a result of the ban, Bethesda decided to have it renamed to Med-X. Evidence of this last-minute change is the fact Med-X's editor ID is Morphine and Med-X addiction's editor ID is WithdrawalMorphine.[Non-game 4]



  1. The Chosen One: "{701}{}{Uh, about the Jet --?}"
    Myron: "{710}{myn112}{Plus, a peyote trip is too long. The profit's in fast turn around and high addiction. Like, uh, barbitutates before the Big One, y'know?}"
    The Chosen One: "{714}{}{You mean barbiturates…like old school cocaine, crank, all that?}"
    Myron: "{725}{myn113a}{Right. Can I finish? }"
    (Myron's dialogue)
  2. Skylanes smuggling manifest
  3. Rose of Sharon Cassidy: "Won't trade with Khans - they've poisoned most of the villages west of Vegas with chems."
    (Rose of Sharon Cassidy's dialogue
  4. The Courier: "Anything else you can tell me about Great Khans?"
    Chet: "They're tough sons of bitches, mean but not crazy - they'll leave you alone unless you've got something they want. The Great Khans deal in illegal chems. There's a good chance that most chems you come across were made by Great Khans."
    (Chet's dialogue)
  5. The Courier: "How'd you get into this business?"
    Jack: "Guess I just had a natural talent for it. When I was a kid, these cats called the Followers of the Apocalypse came to our camp. They knew all kinds of kooky scientastical stuff, so I ate up all the chemistry they could teach. Diane had the head for business, so we teamed up."
    (Jack's dialogue)
  6. Lt. Carrie Boyd and Ranger Keller are currently investigating illegal drug trafficking in the Mojave Wasteland.
  7. The Courier: "<cover package> Oh this? Nothing important."
    Keller (Fallout: New Vegas): "[FAILED] <Takes Contreras' package> Bullshit, lets see what you've got here... Well, it looks like you've got the materials here to make chems. You're under arrest unless you've got a damn good explanation."
  8. The Courier: "Is there something special about these supplies?"
    Blake: "Well, pain-killers are easy to come by, but it isn't easy finding iodine, allergy meds, and a few of these other items. Why do you ask?"
    The Courier: "Combining those with chemical cleaners would yield strong chems..."
    Blake: "Really? Huh, never thought of that. The Crimson Caravan isn't really in the drug business."
  9. The Courier: "Well, I was given this package to deliver to him."
    Keller (Fallout: New Vegas): "Let's see... Well, it looks like you've got the materials here to make full-blown chems."
  10. The Courier: "What's going to happen to him?"
    Keller (Fallout: New Vegas): "He'll be shot. We have no tolerance for chem dealers in the military."
  11. The Courier: "What is considered a banned item?"
    Legionary main gate guard: "Alcohol and all chems, including stims and other addictive items."
  12. The Courier: "Who did this to you?"
    Anders: "Unh... Legion caught me. Said this... was the penalty for drug runners. Please... let me down."
  13. The Courier: "Is it dangerous to trade with the Legion?"
    Dale Barton: "Not at all - they're my best customers. As long as you don't try to sell 'em chems or alcohol, they treat you fair. Hell, I don't even need to travel with guards most of the time in Legion territory. All the bandits are dead or run off."
  14. The Courier: "What is that machine in your tent?"
    Caesar: "It's called an Auto-Doc. As the name suggests, it's an automated physician - more or less. It can treat broken bones, cuts, punctures, scrapes. Sometimes I bestow its use upon someone I favor. Makes for a powerful gift, in a culture that forbids painkillers and is largely ignorant of medical science."
  15. Troy: "{226}{}{Uh, sure. You might want to take some aspirin before you start, though. I'll wait here.}"
    (Troy's dialogue)
  16. Vault 101 terminal entries; Vault 101 medical data system, Stanley
  17. The Sole Survivor: "No, I don't."
    Caretaker: "Then, boy, you're in the wrong place. I'm popping Rad-X like aspirin over here just to stay alive. Get out of here. Save yourself."
    (Caretaker's dialogue)
  18. Myron: "{710}{myn112}{Plus, a peyote trip is too long. The profit's in fast turn around and high addiction. Like, uh, barbitutates before the Big One, y'know?}"
    The Chosen One: "{714}{}{You mean barbiturates…like old school cocaine, crank, all that?}"
    Myron: "{725}{myn113a}{Right. Can I finish? }"
    The Chosen One: "{5725}{}{Fine, fine. What was the problem with making barbiturates?}"
    Myron: "{726}{myn113b}{Problem is, in the new climate, we can't grow most of the veggies needed for the best drugs.}"
    The Chosen One: "{728}{}{I'm with you.}"
    Myron: "{740}{myn114a}{Couldn't grow coca plants, opium poppies -- and man did we try -- so we figured our best bet was shrooms. }"
    (Myron's dialogue)


  1. Fallout 2 Official Strategies & Secrets p. 74: "This party drug was once favored for the boost it gave to creativity—tune in, turn on, drop out. Mentats are just the ticket when you need to figure out something particularly perplexing or impress someone with your wits and charm. Mentats also sharpen your Perception, which greatly enhances long-range sniping attacks."
  2. Fallout 2 Official Strategies & Secrets, p. 66: "Originally made popular through clandestine use by professional athletes, Buffout is particularly helpful in mêlée or unarmed combat."
  3. Fallout 2 Official Strategies & Secrets, p. 75: "The drug was developed specifically for military use. It increases a soldier's damage resistance, and its dampening effect on higher brain functions makes for tough, but uncontrollable, troops. This drug was very popular for human-wave assaults. Take it just before a difficult combat, and then go someplace safe to sit out the aftereffects."
  4. OFLC report: "The game contains the option to take a variety of "chems" using a device which is connected to the character's arm. Upon selection of the device, a menu selection screen is displayed. Upon this screen is a list of "chems" that the player can take, by means of selection. These "chems" have positive effects and some negative effects (lowering of Intelligence, or the character may become addicted to the "chem"). The positive effects include an increase in Strength, stamina, resistance to damage, Agility and hit points. Corresponding with the list of various "chems" are the small visual representation of the drugs, these include syringes, tablets, pill bottles, a crack-type pipe and blister packs. In the Board's view, these realistic visual representations of drugs and their delivery method bring the "science-fiction" drugs in line with "real-world" drugs."
    OFLC Report: Why Fallout 3 Was Banned In Australia