There are a bunch of consumables in Fallout 4, but none are as useful as chems are. Chems, or chemicals, are the variety of consumable drugs that the Sole Survivor can get addicted to if they consume them too much. While most chems can be found as loot in chem coolers and random spots all around the Commonwealth, you can also use Chemistry Stations that can be randomly discovered everywhere to craft them on your own with ingredients you've found in the wild.
Chems can be powerful boosters in combat, but if you're playing in Survival Mode they can also have powerful penalties if overused. Your companions might also be inclined to judge you if you use chems, so pick your poisons wisely. There are about five chems that are worth sacrificing a bit of your good health for and five that are kind of a waste of time.
10 Worth It: Overdrive
Overdrive is not a very well known chem in Fallout 4, but it's an incredibly useful one. You can craft it with somewhat simple ingredients: acid, nuka cola and psycho. Overdrive is a nice combat booster and great for those who have a VATS heavy build. It gives you +25% Damage and +25% Critical Chance for a whopping 8 minutes.
Keep in mind, however, that if you'd like to craft this chem you need to make sure you have Rank 1 unlocked within the Chemist perk. If you get addicted, however, you endure a penalty of -1 Agility and -1 Strength.
9 Pass: RadAway
It might be a big shocker for some players to see RadAway of all items listed here, but hear us out on this. RadAway is one of the most efficient ways to get rid of radiation damage, especially if you're not playing in Survival Mode, as it carries no penalties.
However, those in Survival Mode will know of its strong diuretic effects that basically include Fatigue and Hunger, as well as a potential risk for Infection. Therefore, it's usually best to either craft the Refreshing Beverage at the Chemistry station to cure your radiation damage or see a doctor who can cure your for just a few measly caps.
8 Worth It: Buffout
Buffout is a fairly common chem found all over the Commonwealth. Long before the war started, it was something akin to a steroid supplement, popular among men. Now, Buffout is just one of the many supplements that can serve you well in combat. Should you find yourself against a particularly hard enemy, this chem is an easy one to pop to give you that extra endurance for just a bit longer.
Buffout's effects last for five minutes and give you +2 Strength, +2 Endurance and +50 Maximum HP. What makes this chem safer compared to others is also the fact that it has only a 25% chance of making you addicted to it. So, when in doubt, pop a Buffout.
7 Pass: Daddy-O
As the name probably already tells you, Daddy-O is a drug that was in great use among beatniks and intellectuals prior to the apocalypse. Still somewhat widely available but a bit harder to find in the wasteland, it appears in syringe form with effects lasting up to 8 minutes. Daddy-O gives you +3 Intelligence and +3 Perception but will lower your Charisma by -2.
Worse yet, it has one of the highest addiction probabilities in the game at 35%, giving you a -1 Intelligence and -1 Perception penalty. While the attribute boosts are pretty nice and last for a while, it's too risky and situational to see any real use.
6 Worth It: Psycho
A former stimulant developed by the US Army for its soldiers, Psycho is one of the more hardcore chems on this list. Despite listing some pretty grizzly side effects like bleeding gums and restlessness, it's a favorite among chem users and pretty commonly found. The crafting is also incredibly simple: circuitry, stimpak, acid and hubflower.
Psycho's effects only last for 5 minutes, but they give you that powerful edge that you want in a fight if you know you need to deal some serious damage. It gives you +25% Damage and +25 Damage Resistance. There's only a 25% chance of getting addicted, and if you do your penalty is at -1 Strength and -10 Damage Resistance.
5 Pass: Calmex
If you're looking for another rarer chem on this list, Calmex is definitely one that won't be found in just any chem cooler. This syringe gives you an 8-minute boost, including +3 Perception, +3 Agility and +2x Sneak Attack Multiplier.
Just like with Daddy-O, these stats are somewhat situational and tend to depend on the build you're going for with your character. If your character relies on sneak attacks, this could be a nice boost to have, but if not you're better off selling it away or storing it in the depths of your item trunks. The addiction probability is at 35%, which is fairly high, and getting addicted will penalize you with -2 Agility.
4 Worth It: Addictol
Since we're on the topic of all these chems and addiction, it's important to also talk about how to get rid of those addictions. You can visit a doctor to get yourself back up on your feet, but alternatively, you can just take some Addictol.
This chem is special because you can't get addicted to it, and it's pretty difficult to find as loot. If you do, it's good to always carry it with you, since it cures all addictions at once. However, in Survival Mode using Addictol won't come without a price, since it will increase your thirst by 62.5 points.
3 Pass: Mentats
No doubt the second most common chem in all of Commonwealth, Mentats are pills that can be found or bought just about anywhere. They're also fairly easy to craft with just Abraxo cleaner, Brain fungus and Lead (which are incredibly questionable ingredients). Once consumed, they'll give you a +2 Intelligence and +2 Perception boost for 5 minutes.
If you get addicted to it, you'll get a penalty of -1 Charisma. It's a decent set of stats, but since they'll only serve you well with picking locks or hacking, you might just be better off calling Cait or Nick to do the work for you than risk addiction.
2 Worth It: X-Cell
The ultimate best chem in the game, X-Cell is a consumable with high risks and high rewards. It's difficult to find, but if you have enough ranks in Science! and Chemist perks, you can craft it somewhat easily with Dirty Water, Jet, Lead, Nuclear Material and Plastic (again, very questionable ingredients).
That being said, it gives you incredible boosts for 2 minutes, a whole +2 to all of your basic attributes. You'll be an absolute beast with this, but keep in mind that at 35% probability of addiction, it's easy to get addicted. Once you do, the penalty is -1 to all your attributes, which is not at all insignificant and can be a real pain to deal with.
1 Pass: Jet
Perhaps the most common and also the least valuable of all chems is Jet, which looks exactly like Addictol and should not be confused with it. Jet's only effect is to slow time, and it does this for a measly 10 seconds, which isn't much at all.
It's difficult to see where this would be useful, since you already have VATS at your disposal, and if you don't have a plan B to deal with an enemy after using all your action points, the problem is in your character build, not in the lack of chems. It only has a 25% probability of addiction, which is easy to deal with, but you'll suffer with a -1 Agility penalty over just a 10-second boost, which is just too much.