Substance abuse and urban trauma go hand in hand. But research focuses on large cities served by major academic medical centers. Do small cities face the same problems? Two hundred thirty-three urban trauma inpatients from a metro area of 250,000 were studied using patient interviews and medical records. As in large cities, one half used alcohol or drugs when attacked. Seventy percent were likely to be young, male, poor African-Americans. Only 3% were gang members, but demographic characteristics failed to explain substance abuse as they have for larger cities. A culture of violence pervades the small city, as it does in large urban ghettos. Two fifths were repeat urban trauma victims. Two fifths witnessed assaults in the past year. One third carried a knife or gun. Fifteen percent used a weapon on another person in the last year. Contextual variables, like being hurt in a bar, were related to drinking and drugs. The best predictor of present substance abuse and urban trauma was medical history of substance abuse. The need for (a) toxicology screens for all trauma victims, (b) referrals to substance abuse programs, (c) targeting at-risk populations for prevention, and (d) eliminating environments fostering violence and substance abuse is supported.