What Does the Drug Ecstasy Look Like?

How to Recognize MDMA Pills

Ecstasy is an illicit recreational drug that contains the active ingredient MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine). It's related to both stimulant and hallucinogenic drugs and produces both types of effects, making it a popular party drug. Ecstasy in powder form is often called Molly. And it can be difficult to identify because it comes in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colors.

One reason there's such variation in appearance is that different ingredients are used to bind the crystalline powder into a pill or tablet form and ecstasy tablets may also contain additives to extend the ingredients. This feature is also one of the greatest dangers when it comes to ecstasy—you can never really know what these pills contain.

In addition to differences in color, size, and shape, the pills often are stamped or imprinted with unique logos. These logos and imprints are intended to build a following for ecstasy made in specific labs. Bright colors also make it more appealing, especially to young people.

The following examples of ecstasy pills show their range of appearance.

Triangular MDMA Tablets Marked With an "X"

Ecstasy pills in a person's hand

Diverse Images / Getty Images

This MDMA pill has the letter "X" stamped into it, likely referring to ecstasy (XTC). Ecstasy usually comes in 50mg to 150mg tablets that are either swallowed whole or crushed and snorted. 

Most of the ecstasy pills sold in the United States are manufactured abroad. Sources are often illegal labs in Canada and the Netherlands, where enforcement is not as strict as in the United States. Illegal labs in the United States have far more difficulty in obtaining the precursors, or what MDMA is made from, which are well-monitored by the industrial chemical industry.

Speckled Ecstasy Tablet With Fish Imprint

Ecstasy tablet with fish logo

Drug Enforcement Administration

Pure MDMA has a crystalline appearance. When made into tablet form, other ingredients are added to bind it together.

One of the dangers of ecstasy is that there is no way to know what drugs and how much of each drug is in a tablet, which can lead to dangerous interactions with other drugs and accidental overdose.

Other substances and fillers are often added to ecstasy pills as a way to cut costs and maximize profits. Some pills may only contain small amounts of MDMA, while others may not contain any at all. The substances that are included in these pills may mimic the effects of MDMA, but they can also present serious dangers.

The tablets might contain methamphetamine, cocaine, piperazine, synthetic cathinones ("bath salts"), or any number of different chemical contaminants. This pill with a fish logo is similar to a batch seized in Greece.

While research is limited, some evidence suggests that ecstasy in powder form, known as Molly, is frequently so adulterated with other substances that it often contains little to no actual MDMA.

Off-White Ecstasy Tablet With Crow's Foot Symbol

Picture of Ecstasy With Crow's Foot Logo

Drug Enforcement Administration

Illegal labs imprint symbols into their ecstasy tablets as logos to build a following. Different imprints may even be given different names. These imprints may influence purchasing decisions based on reputation or past experience with a particular product.

For example, when other people take a pill and experience negative effects, they may share this information with others. These imprints may sometimes help people avoid certain pills that have become known for presenting dangers.

Blue Ecstasy Tablet With Butterfly Imprint

Picture of Ecstasy with Butterfly Logo

Drug Enforcement Administration

The butterfly imprint on these MDMA pills looks innocuous, even fun—and that's by design. This sort of branding is often used by the illegal lab where the ecstasy was produced to try appeal to a younger market. 

Yellow Ecstasy Tablet With Space Shuttle Symbol

Picture of Ecstasy with Space Shuttle Logo

Drug Enforcement Administration

This MDMA tablet has a space shuttle imprint, which might indicate how spacey or high it promises to make the user. This example is similar to one found in San Francisco.

White Ecstasy Tablet With "Star Dust" Imprint

Picture of Ecstasy with Star Dust Logo

Drug Enforcement Administration

This ecstasy tablet has a "Star Dust" imprint, which might allude to the glam rock days of David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust. Reports are that it came from a lab in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The imprints allow people to share their experiences with different pills online and on social media.

Ecstasy Tablet With Thumbs Up Logo

Picture of Ecstasy with Thumbs Up Logo

Drug Enforcement Administration

The thumbs up logo has been seen in many different variations on MDMA tablets. Some of them have tested as including MDA, or 3,4-Methylenedioxyamphetamine, which is similar to MDMA, rather than MDMA. You can never know from batch to batch what is in illegally-manufactured pills, even those with the same logo.

Ecstasy pills can cause a range of physical effects including rapid heartbeat, blood vessel constriction, sweating, problems regulating body temperature, and high blood pressure. People sometimes experience seizures and frightening panic attacks.

Triangular Ecstasy Tablet With "X" Logo

Picture of Ecstasy with X Logo

Drug Enforcement Administration

While round is a popular choice, ecstasy tablets may come in other shapes as well. This tablet has an "X" on it for "ecstasy" or "extasy." Other tablet shapes include hearts, triangles, oblong squares, and squares. They may also be shaped like animals or cartoon characters, similar to popular chewable vitamin products for children.

Identification Resources

There are a number of online resources that may be helpful if you need to identify a pill that you believe may be ecstasy.

  • Pillreports.net is a large ecstasy pill database, where people can search based on color, logo, and name. The site also contains reports written by users detailing chemical test results and observed effects based on use.
  • Dance Safe is a website that offers information on a variety of drugs. You can also purchase drug checking kits to test for adulterants that are often added to MDMA pills, such as caffeine and amphetamine.
  • KnowDrugs App is designed to help people avoid bad batches of ecstasy tablets. The app contains information about drug testing and pill testing results and is aimed at harm reduction. The app also provides information about what to do in the event of a drug-related emergency.

What Are Ecstasy Pills?

Ecstasy pills contain the drug MDMA. They come in tablets as well as capsules that contain the powder known as Molly in addition to other binders, fillers, and sometimes other drugs and adulterants. The pills come in different shapes, sizes, colors, and some have logos or cartoon designs on them.


Ecstasy is known as a party drug or club drug and is used at places such as electronic dance music (EDM) events, clubs, concerts, parties, and bars. It's popular among teens and young adults who may take it for the euphoric feelings, to break down their inhibitions, as well as for its energizing effects. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), it's common for it to be used with other drugs.


Since these pills are illegally produced, there are no standards for manufacturing, which means that the ingredients and dosage are inconsistent and typically unknown to the people who take them. In some cases, other dangerous drugs are added and potentially harmful interactions occur. MDMA is classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning it has a high potential for misuse. Ecstasy can produce psychological effects and carry some notable health risks including death.

Risks can also result from taking other drugs with MDMA. A 2021 review published in Neurotoxicity Research concluded that drinking alcohol while taking MDMA can have negative effects on MDMA-induced health effects, such as dehydration and high body heat, and should be avoided. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), MDMA could also promote riskier sexual behavior.

It's not clear if MDMA is addictive; however, some people have said they experienced addiction and withdrawal symptoms, according to NIDA.

A Word From Verywell

If you suspect that a pill offered by a friend or found in your teen's room is ecstasy, familiarizing yourself with what ecstasy tablets can look like might help, but in practice, it can be difficult and even impossible to know for sure—even with drug testing kits. The bottom line is that you take a very large risk when taking a pill that was manufactured illegally, so it's best to stay safe and avoid it.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

12 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  7. National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. MDMA (Ecstasy or Molly).

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Additional Reading

By Buddy T
Buddy T is an anonymous writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism.