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A guide to Fallout chems and addiction

Don’t know your RadAway from your Rad-X? We’re here to help.

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Don’t know your RadAway from your Rad-X? We’re here to help.

You might not know this, but the ‘chems’ in Fallout were originally going to be called exactly what they are: drugs. They would have been called morphine and meth and… but the Australian censorship board (I know! Not the German one, right?) decided that Fallout 3 could act to glamourise drug-taking, even in this fictional world, and Bethesda chose to modify the labels in-game to take into account the board’s objections, which were as follows:

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 increase in Strength, stamina, resistance to damage, Agility and hit points.

Corresponding with the list of various “chems” are 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.

So there you go. European censors aren’t always the biggest buzz-kills after all. You can still see evidence of what things might have been – and what a last-minute change it was – in the Fallout 3 editor, where the chem Med-X is still called ‘Morphine’ and it’s corresponding withdrawal symptoms are still labelled as ‘WithdrawalMorphine’.

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Here’s our run-down of the available chems in the Fallout universe, what they do for you, and their addictive properties.

Fallout Chems – Mentats

Fallout chems - MentatsEffects: +5 Intelligence; +5 Perception
Withdrawal: -1 Intelligence; -1 Perception; Duration 30 hours; Chance 5%

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Mentats are small candy-like chews, found in a quaint metal tin, that deliver a boost to intelligence and perception. Their name is a reference to Frank Herbert’s Dune, where Mentats are humans trained for computer-like mathematical and logical computations.

Mentats are a generally-low risk chem, with a 5% addiction chance. The benefits of the stat modifiers they give you can enable you to pass stat checks for certain tasks, or alter the path of conversations. There are three variants of Mentats that can be won from a machine in the National Archives. The variants only increase one statistic but are also non-addictive.

Berry Mentats
Effects: +5 Intelligence

Grape Mentats
Effects: +5 Charisma

Orange Mentats
Effects: +5 Perception

Fallout Chems – Buffout

Fallout chems - BuffoutEffects: +60 Max HP; +3 Endurance; +3 Strength; Duration 4 minutes
Withdrawal: -1 Endurance; -1 Strength; Duration 30 hours; Chance 10%

Buffout is an advanced steroid that was favoured by professional athletes prior to the Great War. It gives a boost to endurance, strength and maximum hit points, but exercise caution: the extra 60 hit points granted by the Buffout chem are taken away from current hit points – not just maximum – when the period of effect is over. If the character has less than 60 hit points to give, their health will be reduced to 1.

Buffout is a moderately addictive chem, with a 10% chance. As with most chems the withdrawal effects are the reverse of the beneficial properties, reducing strength and endurance, but maximum hit points are not impacted.

Fallout Chems – Jet

Fallout chems - JetEffects: +30 Action Points; Duration 4 minutes
Withdrawal: -1 Agility; -1 Charisma; Duration 30 hours; Chance 20%

Jet is the Fallout universe’s meth-amphetamine analog, in that it causes users to be hyper, is highly addictive, and is produced from a fairly unassuming source. Before the war, meat companies were experimenting with artificial proteins. Unfortunately, these had poor effects on the consumers and, to cut their losses, it was fed to cattle as a waste product. Myron, a wasteland chemist and drug pioneer, discovered the the fumes from the dung of Brahmin that had been fed this protein was a highly effective and addictive drug.

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Jet is highly addictive in its normal form, with a 20% chance. In Fallout 3, the Wanderer has an opportunity to produce a chem known as UltraJet – designed because Ghouls were becoming resistant to the effects of regular Jet – by combining Jet with Sugar Bombs cereal and Abraxo Cleaner. UltraJet (and Rocket, another variant) is just as addictive but has worse side effects than regular Jet…

Effects: +40 Action Points; Duration 4 minutes
Withdrawal: -2 Agility; -1 Perception; -1 Strength; Duration permanent (48-minute cycles); Chance 20%

Fallout Chems – Med-X

Fallout chems - Med-XEffects: +25% Damage Resistance; Duration 6 minutes (12 with the Chemist perk)
Withdrawal: -1 Agility; -1 Intelligence; Duration 30 hours; Chance 10%

Med-X is, as previously mentioned, Fallout’s equivalent of Morphine and is used as a painkiller. Ultimately its painkilling properties give the effect to the user that they are impervious to damage by an increased ratio of 25% . Med-X is, like Morphine, an addicting substance.

Besides providing the benefits of regular Power Armour, a prototype known as Medic Power Armour will automatically dispense Med-X every 2.5 hours if the player’s health drops below 33% or if a limb’s health drops below 25% . While being administered through the power armour an addiction to Med-X will not develop, which is nice.

Fallout Chems – Psycho

Fallout chems - PsychoEffects: +25% Damage; Duration 4 minutes
Withdrawal: -1 Endurance; -1 Perception; Duration 30 hours; Chance 10%

Psycho is a military-grade psychosis drug developed and tested by the US military to allow a boost of aggression to soldiers during ground assault and general combat. Testing and field-use revealed that Psycho results in very effective, but hard to control troops.

Psycho is moderately addictive and, in tests performed prior to and during Operation Anchorage, has been found to have long-lasting side effects on personality and anger levels. It is also one of the most-widespread chems available in the Wasteland.

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Fallout Chems – RadAway

Fallout chems - RadAwayEffects: -50 Radiation (up to -150 dependent on abilities)
Withdrawal: No Addiction (from Fallout 3)

RadAway is an intravenous chem solution that works to remove radiation poisoning. It can be spotted in the field more easily because the IV bag emits a faint radioactive glow; though not nearly as brightly as a bottle of NukaCola Quantum. The effectiveness of each dose of RadAway is determined by the player’s abilities.

As of Fallout 3, RadAway is no longer addictive; in previous iterations, its symptoms could be almost as serious as radiation poisoning.

Fallout Chems – Rad-X

Fallout Chems - Rad-XEffects: +25% Radiation Resistance (up to +75% dependent on abilities); Duration 4 minutes
Withdrawal: No Addiction

Rad-X is a radiation repellent medication, in a similar fashion to how Med-X is a pain repellent; you still receive the dose of radiation, but it simply effects your physiology less than without. Unlike many chems you can stack Rad-X doses, but this simply acts to increase the duration of the effect, not the overall potency of the radiation resistance.

Rad-X is not an addicting chem. It can be used – along with equipment like an environment suit or Power Armour – to create a high level of radiation resistance, but it cannot make the player completely immune; radiation resistance tops out at 85% .

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Fallout Chems – Stimpak

Fallout chems - StimpakEffects: +30HP (up to +90HP dependent on abilities)
Withdrawal: No Addiction

Stimpak, or Stimulation Delivery Package to give its full name, is a medication and syringe delivery system combination for restoring health or damage to the body. When used as a general medication, the Stimpak restores HP based on the player’s skills and abilities, and can restore a small amount of damage to a crippled limb. As of Fallout 3, a Stimpak can be applied to effectively repair a crippled limb; this grants a massive amount of health to the limb, and a small overall increase to the health of the character and other limbs.

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Stimpaks are, thankfully, not addictive – otherwise we’d all be in trouble!

Minor Fallout Chems – Ant Nectar

Effects: -2 Intelligence; -2 Charisma; +4 Strength; Duration 4 minutes
Withdrawal: -2 Strength; Duration 1 hour; Chance 5%

Minor Fallout Chems – Ant Nectar

Effects: -2 Intelligence; -2 Charisma; +4 Strength; Duration 4 minutes
Withdrawal: -2 Strength; Duration 1 hour; Chance 5%

Minor Fallout Chems – Ant Queen Pheromones

Effects: -3 Intelligence; -3 Perception; +3 Charisma; Duration 4 minutes
Withdrawal: No Addiction

Minor Fallout Chems – Fire Ant Nectar

Effects: -3 Intelligence; +4 Agility; =25% Fire Resistance; Duration 4 minutes
Withdrawal: No Addiction

Minor Fallout Chems – Beer, Wine

Effects: -1 Intelligence; +1 Charisma; +1 Strength; Duration 4 minutes
Withdrawal: -1 Agility; -1 Charisma; Chance 5%

Minor Fallout Chems – Scotch, Vodka, Whiskey

Effects: -1 Intelligence; +1 Charisma; +1 Strength; Duration 4 minutes
Withdrawal: -1 Agility; -1 Charisma; Chance 10%


All information in this guide is considered correct as of Fallout 3, and may be updated very, very soon! Pick up Fallout 4 from Amazon now.

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Tom is an itinerant freelance technology writer who found a home as an Editor with Thumbsticks. Powered by coffee, RPGs, and local co-op.