Subtitled A Journey Beyond Limits, this is Robert Anton Wilson's first published book, in 1973 by Playboy Press. It was originally titled "Sex, Drugs and the Occult", but Hugh Hefner apparently insisted on the change, saying "Only women and fags buy books on the occult." Wilson worked for Playboy for 20 years as an editor and journalist, and the book was hyped considerably, with rave reviews by Timothy Leary, Alan Watts and William Burroughs, but, as Wilson says in the preface to the New Falcon Press edition, he never earned a penny in royalties from it, and it went out of print very quickly.
Considering Wilson's later, more psychedelic prose style, Sex And Drugs is a restrained, factual guidebook to the various different things it is possible to do to the human nervous system, with a strong emphasis on personal anecdotes, detailed descriptions of mental and physical states, and a healthy dose of humour. As one might expect, there is a heavy focus on the combination of certain drugs with sex, especially marijuana, but really sex is not the point, nor are drugs alone the point. It is easy to miss the fact that what Wilson is most concerned with, as in all his writing, is the expansion of consciousness.
There is a healthy mix of information - the ecstatic mind-altering trips are interspersed with cautionary tales about the over-use of psychedelics, and the chapters on opiates and amphetamines, while maintaining an academic detachment, basically read as "Don't do this unless you're stupid." Wilson's aim is to get people thinking about their assumptions - about reality, about the use of drugs to enrich and challenge our preconceived ideas, and about the synergistic combination of drug use and Tantric sex.
Wilson's stories are entertaining, mostly taken directly from his personal experience and that of his friends, and sometimes quite moving (e.g. The story of 'Holy Out', a heroin addict who commits suicide). There is also a wealth of information on weird and unusual ways to get yourself high (Morning Glory Seeds? Nutmeg? Catnip??) as well as advice on how to bring yourself down (Niacin, Thorazine), and things you should definitely avoid (Frisco Speedball - "A mixture of cocaine, heroin and LSD. A limitless variety of harmful effects can result from chronic abuse. The possible exception is cancer.")
One of Wilson's primary intentions is to dispel the harmful myths surrounding drug use, both positive and negative, and his message is, if anything, more relevant today than it was in the early 1970's when it was originally written, now that drugs have been demonized to the extent that one country has actually declared war on them.