Why Is Fentanyl So Deadly? Logan Williams, 'The Flash' Actor, Died After Taking Opioid

The death of 16-year-old 'The Flash' actor Logan Williams was the result of an accidental drug overdose, British Columbia's coroner's office has confirmed.

The actor, who played the main character Barry Allen during flashback scenes in the show's first two seasons, died on April 2, 2020—the week before his 17th birthday on April 9.

Williams, who was a British Columbia native, died from "unintentional illicit drug toxicity (fentanyl)," according to a coroner report seen by The New York Post on Wednesday.

"Toxicological analysis detected fentanyl in a range where lethal outcomes have been reported," the coroner's report said. "Even small amounts of fentanyl have been shown to be potentially toxic."

The coroner deemed the actor's death "accidental."

Williams will join a list of celebrities who have died after accidentally overdosing on the drug, including Prince in 2016, and Tom Petty in the following year.

Fentanyl is a powerful opioid analgesic that is lab-synthesized and similar to morphine. However, it can be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The drug is usually prescribed to patients with chronic pain, especially those that are resistant to other opioids.

Part of the reason fentanyl is so deadly is its potency. In 2016, the New Hampshire State Police Forensic Laboratory highlighted that while it would take a 30 miligram dose of heroin to kill a man, just 3 milligrams of fentanyl could do the same.

"You don't know what you're taking," the director of the New Hampshire State Police Forensic Laboratory, Tim Pifer, told medical news website STAT at the time. "You're injecting yourself with a loaded gun."

Synthetic opioids such as fentanyl are now the most common drugs involved in overdose deaths in the U.S., according to NIDA. In 2017, 59 percent of opioid overdoses involved fentanyl, up from just 10 percent in 2010.

Like other opioids, including heroin and morphine, fentanyl works by binding to sites in the brain called opioid receptors, which control pain and emotions. According to the NIDA, its effects include extreme happiness, drowsiness, confusion, breathing problems, and even unconsciousness.

Because of how potent it is, fentanyl is addictive and can result in dependency leading to withdrawal symptoms, such as diarrhea and vomiting, uncontrollable leg movements, muscle and bone pain, and sleep deprivation.

Fentanyl is classed as a Schedule II substance by the Drugs Enforcement Agency, meaning while it can be legally prescribed and possessed it is an offense to carry the drug without a prescription. Other examples of Schedule II drugs are methadone, cannabis, and heroin in the form of diamorphine.

When sold illegally, fentanyl can take the form of a powder, comes dropped on blotter paper, or be put into eye or nasal sprays that disguise it as other drugs.

Fentanyl can be cut into other drugs like heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA as it produces a cheap high—meaning drug users risk taking the opioid without even knowing. This poses a significant risk to drug users who may not be used to such a powerful high.

Around the time of Logan's death, his mother, Marlyse Williams told The New York Post that the young actor had battled opioid addiction for three years. She said she intended to use her son's death to highlight the growing opioid crisis in the U.S.

"His death is not going to be in vain. He's going to help a lot of people down the road."

Seized Fentanyl
Pouches of fentanyl seized by the DEA. The death of 'The Flash' actor Logan Williams has been confirmed to be the result of an accidental overdose of the drug. Photo by DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images/Getty