Methadone is a synthetic
Synthesis, the combination of two or more parts, whether by design or by natural processes. Furthermore, it may imply being prepared or made artificially, in contrast to naturally.-In the sense of combination:* Synthetic position, a concept in finance...

An opioid is a psychoactive chemical that works by binding to opioid receptors, which are found principally in the central and peripheral nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract...

, used medically as an analgesic
An analgesic is any member of the group of drugs used to relieve pain . The word analgesic derives from Greek an- and algos ....

 and a maintenance anti-addictive for use in patients with opioid dependency. It was developed in Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 in 1937. Although chemically unlike morphine
Morphine is a potent opiate analgesic medication and is considered to be the prototypical opioid. It was first isolated in 1804 by Friedrich Sertürner, first distributed by same in 1817, and first commercially sold by Merck in 1827, which at the time was a single small chemists' shop. It was more...

 or heroin, methadone acts on the same opioid receptor
Opioid receptor
Opioid receptors are a group of G protein-coupled receptors with opioids as ligands. The endogenous opioids are dynorphins, enkephalins, endorphins, endomorphins and nociceptin. The opioid receptors are ~40% identical to somatostatin receptors...

s as these drugs, and thus has many of the same effects. Methadone is also used in managing severe chronic pain
Chronic pain
Chronic pain has several different meanings in medicine. Traditionally, the distinction between acute and chronic pain has relied upon an arbitrary interval of time from onset; the two most commonly used markers being 3 months and 6 months since the initiation of pain, though some theorists and...

, owing to its long duration of action, extremely powerful effects, and very low cost.