Early on in Fallout 76 you're handed stimpaks like it's painkiller Christmas, and it's easy to think you'll never have to worry about them ever again. A few hours later you'll feel differently. The robots, ghouls, and weird folklore creatures of West Virginia don't carry a lot of healing items for you to loot and the recipe you need before you can craft your own stimpaks is hard to find. This isn't the kind of game where you finish a boss fight and still have a backpack full of health potions you've been hoarding since level one.
Here's how to keep your battered body in one piece in Fallout 76.
Use the drug-sniffing perk, Pharma Farma
Pharma Farma does not sound as exciting as other perks, like the ones that increase damage with one-handed weapons or let you target body parts with VATS, but this low-level Luck perk is actually essential. It gives you a 40% bonus to find more medicinal chems whenever you search a first aid container or a chem box. Since you'll be scrounging for every stimpak you can, that's a huge bonus. Thing is, you have to remember to actually activate Pharma Farma. It's not a passive bonus, so remember to hit the space bar (Y-button on a 360 controller) on every chem-containing object you find to actively dig around in the bottom and find that bonus stimpak. Because otherwise you would somehow have missed it in a container the size of a loaf of bread.
Pharma Farma can be ranked up when combined with a second and third matching perk card, going from a 40% chance to find extra chems to a 60% and finally 80% chance. There are a couple other useful perks when it comes to healing too: First Aid increases the amount of health stimpaks restore by 15% (increasing to 30% and 45%), and Traveling Pharmacy reduces the weight of all chems in your inventory by 30% (going up to 60% and then 90%).
The recipe for making your own stimpaks is easy: one part antiseptic, one part steel, and one blood pack. Finding that recipe is not easy. Some players have reported stumbling across it in loot, but for a less random chance at learning the recipe you'll need to join the Enclave and gain access to the medical vendor in their bunker. That's a pretty involved questline you won't even be able to begin until you're high-level enough to kill deathclaws, however.
In the meantime, you can craft healing salves instead. They don't give back as many hit points (only 20% of your maximum), but the recipe's one you know at the start of the game and its ingredients can all be found in the starting area. Boiled water's easy to come by and so are soot flowers—they're the ones with blue-and-purple petals. Only the third ingredient, bloodleaf, is likely to cause trouble. It grows on red-leafed bushes that appear in shallow water, often near purifiers, and is much less common.
Dilute your stimpaks
Another option worth pursuing is dilution. Mix purified water with one stimpak at a crafting station to make two diluted stimpaks, which are obviously less effective (and add more weight) but also less wasteful: there's no point in using a full stimpak if you're only mildly injured. Other chems like RadAway can be diluted too.
Eat, drink, and sleep
Most food and drink restores between 5 and 15% of your hit points, so it's worth holding off on a meal if your health bar is full. Save that ribeye steak for when you're hurting. Sleep obviously restores health as well, though being a multiplayer game Fallout 76 won't conveniently fast-forward time while you're napping. You'll have to watch your Vault dweller heroically lie down and have a snooze for a few minutes while your health bar tops itself up ever so slowly, and keep your fingers crossed that super mutant doesn't stumble across you.
The other risk of sleeping is that if you bed down on a random mattress or sleeping bag on the ground there's a good chance you'll catch a disease. Either build a proper bed at your C.A.M.P. or find one in a relatively secure location—for instance, the top room of the control tower at Morgantown Airport has a bed in it, and one that's only accessible via a single entrance.