London - Mixing energy drinks with alcohol – such as vodka and Red Bull cocktails – increases the urge to down more booze and risks assault, serious injuries and one-night stands, scientists have warned.

A study by Australian academics found those who drank high-caffeine cocktails had a “stronger desire to keep drinking than if they drank alcohol on its own”.

Research showed the effect was noticeable even when the mix of energy drink and vodka was diluted with fruit juice.

But the experts warned there may be even greater cause for concern because the restrictions on volunteers in scientific experiments mean the problem could be much worse out of the lab in pubs and clubs.

Peter Miller, associate professor of psychology at Deakin University, said: “A greater urge to drink has substantial implications. As people become intoxicated they show less inhibitions and are likely to drink more in a cycle of greater intoxication.

“Of course, the drunker you get the more likely you are to get injured, be a victim or perpetrator of an assault, or even drive home while drunk, let alone making bad choices about the people you associate with and possible sexual behaviour.”

The study gave 46 women and 29 men either a cocktail containing 60ml of vodka and a market-leading energy drink or the same measure with soda water instead.

Rebecca McKetin, co-leader of the study and a fellow at the Australian National University’s Centre for Research on Ageing, Health and Wellbeing, said: “We found that when people drink alcohol and energy drinks they have a stronger desire to keep drinking than if they drank alcohol on its own.”

Professor Miller added: “It’s worth noting that the very low levels of alcohol and energy drinks used in these types of experiments are due to the restraints of ethics committees, yet people are using far more than this on average out on the street.

“This difference between what is acceptable in a strictly controlled experiment versus pubs and clubs tells us about the worrying degree to which unsafe behaviour is occurring.” - Daily Mail