It appears that pairing alcohol with energy drink isn't a good idea. Findings of a new research involving young adults suggest that mixing booze and caffeinated energy drinks could increase risks for binge-drinking, a dangerous behavior that could lead to potentially fatal consequences.

Individuals who drink excessively feel drowsy as well as experience impaired judgement and reduced ability to do tasks which could prove dangerous particularly for those who drive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also identified health problems associated with binge drinking which include alcohol poisoning, liver damage, sexual dysfunction and sexually transmitted diseases.

For the new study "The Effect of Energy Drinks on the Urge to Drink Alcohol in Young Adults," which was published in the Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research on July 17, Rebecca McKetin, from the Center for Research on Ageing, Health and Well-Being at The Australian National University, and colleagues recruited 75 individuals between 18 and 30 years old who had no history of alcohol or drug dependence to assess whether or not combining energy drinks and alcohol could boost a person's desire to drink more.

The researchers randomly gave the participants either two shots of vodka and a Red Bull® Silver Edition, the alcohol- energy drink combo, or two shots of vodka with soda water for the alcohol only condition. The participants then completed questionnaires that rated their desire to drink 20 minutes after downing their drinks. The researchers found that the participants who drank the energy drink-alcohol cocktail had a greater urge to drink more compared with the participants who only had alcohol.

"The alcohol+energy drink condition showed a greater pre- versus posttest increase in urge to drink alcohol compared with the alcohol-only condition," McKetin and colleagues wrote. "Combining energy drinks with alcohol increased the urge to drink alcohol relative to drinking alcohol alone."

McKetin said that the possible factors for the increased desire to drink more with an energy drink-booze mixture are caffeine and sugar. She said that sugar found in energy drinks make them palatable and may boost people's desire to drink more. Caffeine, on the other hand, possibly brings out the stimulant effect of the alcohol.

McKetin, however, said that they were not able to identify in their study whether or not the increased urge to keep drinking is caused by the caffeine in the energy drink or its sweetness. Nonetheless, she identified the significance of the study.

"This is an important finding because it provides evidence of a mechanism through which energy drinks may increase binge drinking, and consequently, alcohol-related harm among young people," McKetin said.

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